A white-haired genius sits for his portrait.
Hands clasped in his lap he explains to the artist
we can’t help a drowning man and not get our feet wet.
The artist nods, sketches
a moustache, an ear lobe, thinking only
of the charcoal line.
Rebels in leather coats turn up their collars.
They see what’s coming: an arm sinking,
stillness, silence; a corpse, bloated, ugly,
left to rot with driftwood.
A girl in a red dress dreams of rescue boats
but they’re sailing by through the air.
Ladders dangling from their sides can’t be reached
by grasping hands.
A prince on horseback points to a gap
between clouds, sunbeams stabbing down
like icicles. It’s a diversion.
No one is saved.