I’m running down the corridors,
Late for my watch on the bridge,
For captain’s mast, for General Quarters.
It’s winter, my face frigid:
Why is my uniform tropical white?
Down the passageway
Of shadowless fluorescent light
I gasp, but the view stays
Unchanged—a tunnel of painted steel.
I’m yelling: I did my time—
And I resigned! This can’t be real!
But all the ladders I climb
Now lead to where the lifeboat is stored.
The PA speakers blast:
Man overboard! Man overboard!
The boat’s being lowered. I’m last
To grab a ratline and clamber in.
My grip slips on the line—
I hit the water. And wake: my skin
Slick with the old brine.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 34 Number 10, on page 25
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