Chessmen Waiting

Between empty window-lit library chairs
wait four perfect rows of chessmen
in brown and ivory, faces forward
but introspective. They have always known
the art of waiting; the immobility inherent to their kind,
a stillness we have never neared ―
we who hope so ceaselessly, addicted
to motion even when there is nowhere to go
except up and down the laddered numbers
against the curving silk-lined insides of our skulls.

Still the crow,
with wings that self-propel
though keeping
his contract with nature,
leaps off a wind machine and disappears
from the pale window
flying low over slumbered green.
Even in death he will hold
to that manifesto,
trajectory of instinct
played out by physics and meteorology,
just as our happiness and sorrow
play us like nylon strings, poorly tuned
but making air-conditioned melodies
above a single tapping finger
the face of a clock.