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.

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 34 Number 10, on page 25
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/2016/6/undertow