They sit in well-lit rows, cufflinks sparkling over each battlefield like stars. Is this what God was doing at Flanders, Stalingrad? The wooden men click. They're not fooled by generals bargaining at tables. They face each other. They die. Spaces split slowly open like craters, wounds. The women are somewhere else, harmless, beyond hope. In here is a perfect celibacy - knights without favours, castles bare of maidens. Sometimes it ends in madness - Steinitz challenging that star-sleeved General to match His mere omniscience against the mind of a chessplayer. Time shrivels like an aging pianist's fingers on keys where there are more harmonics than atoms in the universe. Yet nothing really happens among these clocks and lights. The end is scarcity, winds howling over the chequered plains. Imagine moving words like platoons into their slaughter - you'd never get literature! Yet the chessplayers talk of beauty. Sometimes they sigh like lovers.
-- Carol Rumens
Man, I love that poem.