A mini-sub’s spotlights probe hard-packed,
black Atlantic water and excavate a slipshod
line of cracked and crusted aircraft,
as brittle and blind as terracotta warriors.
Sand obscures a flight deck.
A slant conning tower, scabbed and asymmetrically
spiked, marks an aircraft carrier’s grave.
The carrier’s hull has vanished.
Thin, disintegrating metal sheets, ribbed
and veined with pipes, like threadbare
leaves, delicately point from trembling
dunes of gluey wood sludge.
Soft-skinned, mucus-limned and uniformly wan,
a host of lignin lovers gorge on pulped forest.
Tunnelling teredos breach and dive,
like dolphins or time-lapsed strangler vines.
Dunes are aquiver with tiny gribbles and strewn
with the colourless blooms of deep sea urchins.
The carrier’s hull,
(frozen wood pulp and water, twelve metres thick,
netted with refrigeration pipes, cork-insulated,
torpedo resistant and self-healing)
Here lies HMS ‘Fabrication’, a kamikaze casualty.
Miraculously, the entire crew survived!
Yes okay, the scene is fabricated.
Seventy years ago, Churchill placed an order
for eleven ice-hulled aircraft carriers.
Sadly perhaps, plans and prototype were scuttled.
Happily however, a swathe of innocent forests were saved.