Searching for the Police Tower, Orford Ness

by Robin Houghton

By the rust road, a lattice strip of iron. Red-clad.
A dozen more, bent and furred between sea edge
and the Black Beacon: coils of crude traceries

discarded like mis-shapes. All objects wrestle
themselves in this easterly wind. The North Sea
heaves stones from their comfortable silence

up to the spit and the weathered calls of lapwings.
Once it was a humdrum of bombs. Top Secret.
Remains of binoculars, a petrol pump. Photos show

a meccano skeleton, listing but still on the map.
A concrete bunker’s dark mouth breathes a stink
of dereliction, down among the yellow poppies.

Something pathetic about the security gates, stuck
open and the fence gone. Touch nothing suspicious.
The police left in a hurry. Undercover barn owls,

in the eaves of Test Lab 5, wait for the ghosts
of scientists to magic saltpetre into freshwater.
The threat of unexploded ordnance moves us

and I forget why we came here. Radio tower,
police tower, old business? Spat out onto shingle
with the rest, like every wreck that lost itself to water.