Taking the Plunge
for John Berryman (1914-72)
It must have been worse than you expected –
hitting the banks, I mean, if you’d meant to
hit the river. They hardly knew it was you
when they found you – it was only
the unwritten cheque in your pocket
and the name scratched on your glasses
that helped them to identify your body.
Some have called it the poet’s rite of passage –
you know, taking the plunge. I suppose
we have all wanted to try it, and
now at least we have you to thank
for the unintended advice you left –
do not jump, unless directly above water;
always label one’s spectacles.