The chessmen are as rigid on their chessboard
as those life-sized terra-cotta warriors whose vows
to their emperor with bridle, shield and sword
were sworn by a chorus that has lost its voice;
no echo in that astonishing excavation.
Each soldier gave an oath, each gave his word
to die for his emperor, his clan, his nation,
to become a chess piece, breathlessly erect
in shade or crossing sunlight, without hours--
from clay to clay and odorlessly strict.
If vows were visible they might see ours
as changeless chessmen in the changing light
on the lawn outside where bannered breakers toss
and the palms gust with music that is time's
above the chessmen's silence. Motion brings loss.
A sable blackbird twitters in the limes.
If you look carefully at the picture you might also notice Monique Roffey's The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, which was this month shortlisted for the UK's Orange Prize for fiction, and an old copy of VS Naipaul's The Mystic Masseur. Here is the first paragraph from The White Woman on the Green Bicycle:
They took him to the top of Paramin Hill. Right to the top, where there was no one around, where no one could hear him call for help. Four of them. Four to carry out such a job. They wanted to teach him a lesson. He'd no business complaining. So what if the police had stolen his mobile phone, they can damn well take what they like. And poor Talbot -- well --yes. Mixed up with the local thugs, the badjohns up on this hill, the ones causing all the problems. The police already knew Talbot. And now they wanted to teach him not to go making more trouble.
***READ an interview with Monique Roffey here.