Maybe it was the floor,

                        checked, receding, like a perspective drawing

                        where inconsequential games are played

                        which inspired the thought, the question:

                        “If you were a chess piece,

                        what would it be?”

                        “A pawn,” he said,

                        turning with a wry smile

                        then looking away,

                        knowing it would be immodest to admit

                        the more true – well documented – calling

                        Black knight, guardian of the proper order of things

                        servant of bishops, at one time even Her Majesty

                        vigilant, wary, in city or swamp

                        layered with layers of guise and disguise

                        (which linger still, they linger; secrets

                        dance like mad revelers; they won’t sit down)

                        but stripped now, as we all were, of shield and sword

                        I poke at my salad,

                        sip water from a plastic cup

                        my corner fiefdom overrun now by strangers

                        a compromised rook

                        removed from the board