The plank is narrow,
more narrow than when he started;
he could slip off at any time.
The wood is slick, too,
threatening again a premature plunge.
He steadies himself, attempts to think:
He could try appeals to erstwhile friends,
but those at the rail are stony-faced,
young and calloused, just as he had been.
He seeks a deity he’d always disdained,
tries to see himself ascending, not plunging.
But terror tramples piety.
Seeing no salvation, he straightens up;
his knickerbockers, he hopes, conceal
knocking knees and dripping crotch;
and in a mustering of bravado he resolves
to do a spectacular splashless half gainer
Into the cold black depths.
But before he can carry out his resolution,
a bored ex-shipmate tilts the plank.