How subtle of that Indian
surgeon from Indiana
on the Rhine in December

not only to dissect the
occult humor lurking in
my e-mail address

but also to jostle me
in the common room
with a capacious bear hug

within earshot of Irina,
our eastern European chambermaid,

acknowledged earlier in the cruise
for her own subtle creativity
involving thong skits

on the heels of the Captain’s rendition
of “Edelweiss” without irony.

Life-boat drills were rubbish, he intoned,
fiction from Brussels.
We could all save ourselves from drowning
merely by ascending to the top deck,
so shallow was this river.

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