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Nero Deep

by Keith Moul

JOURNAL: RALPH L. MOUL, ELECTRICIAN MATE 2ND CLASS, U.S.S. LEXINGTON 3/3-8/23/1944.

June 30, 1944

“They told us this morning that we were in some of the deepest water in the world yesterday. Nero Deep. It is supposed to be about 31,614 ft. deep, or over 5,000 fathoms.”

***

Sunny days whirl us on the deck with heatstroke, dervish swabbies.
Carrier buoyancy to a Wisconsin boy is natural magic; to cruise a
rolling sea rebuffing waves and elusive enemy subs–ha, a carnival
over bottomless depths, lying in wait to entomb us in a maelstrom.

Sailors taught 6-day creation, watching often the sea’s indifference
to death’s targets, bunkmates swept or honorably dropped to the drink,
verified statistically in naval history. Some lessons have been too easy;
some of us take it personally, as if our ship buckles with us inside;
others seclude themselves in the ship’s library angry over foolish talk.

The cosmos spreads out pursuing the deep universe; so the ocean
divulges its known depths torturing a sailor’s mind into whirlpools.
Twenty-seven-thousand tons of steel manned by average swabbies
entirely overmatched without the captain in the bridge and in control.