If You and I Were Aboard the Titanic

by Juliana Gray
Let’s be honest: both of us would die.
But first, we dress for dinner. You scoop up ice,
barehanded, from a bucket for cocktails
while I spread lipstick. “You look like a Warhol,” you say.
“It’s 1912. He hasn’t been born yet.”
“Okay, Hopper.” “You’re being mean now.”

You pull me toward the bed. “We can’t right now.
After dinner, but before we die.”
Vegetarianism isn’t yet
an option, so I order oysters on ice,
roast duckling in applesauce, say
“oui, merci” to another champagne cocktail.

You look delicious in your coat and tails.
I work my hand along your thigh. “Now now,”
you whisper. “Look at this crystal, these plates,” I say.
“All these pretty things are going to die
like everyone else.” You place a chip of ice
between my lips, numbing me. “Not yet.”

The lonely iceberg hasn’t found us yet.
We stroll the deck in starlight, sipping cocktails.
Why are we always drunk? Why does ice
remind me of your eyes? “I think it’s now
or never.” You grip my wrist. “Good; I’m dying
to ditch these heels. Take me to bed,” I say.

With your hand sealing my mouth, I can’t say
a word, but you feel me come. You haven’t yet,
as if you’re waiting, the last before you die.
I’m thinking of violins, the Astors, details
of history. I smell the brine now,
our bed adrift in seawater clogged with ice.

Why did I love a man with hands like ice?
“I wish we had better music,” you say.
“Coltrane or Ella would be perfect now.”
We hear whistles, the splash of lifeboats, yet
don’t move or touch. I wish for one last cocktail,
gin over iceberg, before we die.

There’s no romance in dying under ice.
Yet I wish for cocktails, wish to hear
you say you love me, to hurt me, even now.

About the author

Juliana Gray’s third poetry collection is Honeymoon Palsy (Measure Press 2017).  Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Atticus Review, Feral, Thimble Lit, and elsewhere.  An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.

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