Flying Over the Titanic

 

It is night over the North Atlantic, and one comes now to that stretch of sea

where the slow, muffled, mortal thrust to the great ship’s skin

scarcely disturbs the certitude of her passengers’ dreams

or raises a shadow of alarm in those sumptuous, first-class souls.

 

The glasslike ocean reflects a billion stars

and lets no horizon break the enormous orb of the ship’s universe.

Captured within that sphere of still, black sea and sky

only the fatal bulk of ice shines,

and the stopped ship, radiant with a thousand reassuring lights.

 

And even as hope tilts into the sea with the glowing hull

the ultimate inhabitants of that titanic age fulfill their trust

with the courage of faith and a fervor of passionate belief,

settling their women into the boats with the children,

retreating into the privacy of their hearts as they set their future adrift.

 

And then the boats are gone and only silence is left,

and the bright stars shining indifferently above those final souls

treading water in the numbing dark, reflecting upon a dawn too far away,

slipping, one by one, silently, painlessly,

beneath the surface of the blameless sea.

 

July 10, 1995

Revised December 20, 1995