Absence

I encountered this poem by Billy Collins today. I love the closing image of the poem, the chess piece moving in all the same familiar ways, even without the chessboard or the other pieces. I think that’s what it’s like, living with loss. You keep moving the same way, but something is missing. And maybe somewhere, your chessboard notices the loss of you as well. Anyway, read the poem and tell if what I’m saying makes sense.

Absence

This morning as low clouds
skidded over the spires of the city

I found next to a bench
in a park an ivory chess piece–

the white knight as it turned out–
and in the pigeon-ruffling wind

I wondered where all the others were,
lined up somewhere

on their red and black squares,
many of them feeling uneasy

about the salt shaker
that was taking his place,

and all of them secretly longing
for the moment

when the white horse
would reappear out of nowhere

and advance toward the board
with his distinctive motion,

stepping forward, then sideways
before advancing again,

the same moves I was making him do
over and over in the sunny field of my palm.

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