April 15, 2:27 a.m.
It started as a struggle.
When the ship sank, Collapsible Lifeboat B
was set to sail, but not yet boarded;
when the last ghastly sound ended
and the ship was sucked under, she floated free.
Two dozen men each saw her first.
Some had been trying to board the nearest lifeboats,
ladies be damned, but were beaten back
by officers with oars. But Collapsible B had no officers,
or at least none already aboard.
She overturned quickly, with fifty arms
tugging her in different directions.
Her sloping underside was slick, slippery,
water turning to ice in the cold air.
A mad king-of-the-hill scramble ensued.
As the water slowly stopped feeling cold, the men knew
they were dying. Jack Thayer was atop the boat then,
and instead of pushing the men off, he began
to help them all on. They all stood, front to back -
they had to, to fit. Then they waited,
soaked and shaking, holding their collective breath
as the water around them got quieter
and the darkness got dimmer, struggling not to shift
their weight, waiting and looking toward the horizon,
waiting for the next bright thing to cross it.
I've just realized I should have been doing all of these completely differently.
Revision is going to be extensive.