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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