The bishop slaps
my cheek and moves two squares
to stand beneath the queen of copious tears
before asking the other pawns their saintly names.
He lays a leprous hand upon their heads,
his gambit a diagonal move to capture them all.
I walk down the aisle past the stained light
and a man, arm outstretched, sinking
beneath the waves.
They say that gravity and darkness claimed his brain.
The arches of the castle open to the wide and wicked world.
Years later I return to the stone rookery
to see if the apostolic font is still the old Roman twelve
or, better yet, Corinthians thirteen.
The stained-glass windows are broken,
and a pigeon occasionally lands on the marble head of the king.
The silence is confirmed: I sit and stare and wait,
but there is no tintinnabulation or waft
of holy smoke.
For now there is a stalemate, though perhaps on some distant day
the bells, now rusted and still, may have awoken.