Cthulhu in Atlantis
Louisville Review, June 2006
Dr. Catherine Carter

Gold Horizontal Line





My mind lies like Cthulhu in Atlantis;
a foam-washed minaret, a weedy dome
of consciousness or reason peering out,
are iceberg-points above a waste of trough
and crest and trough. Far underneath, the rest:
the hills and valleys of the sunken city—
desire, hunger, attics, roofs, who knows
what’s down there, what the dead ones built and shaped
from hardware, software, nightmare, voices, books,
more books? White on the maps, with dragons’ heads:
that’s right too, for there are monsters here,
at least one monster, sleeping in the cellar
a slimy sleep, as it dreams of the night
the mystery rises through the waters, streaming
salt and venom. (Finding Lost Atlantis!
proclaims Discovery Channel, as if this
were such a good idea.)

When I awake
to rainlight in the morning, coffee, cream,
conundrums of the office, furnace-warmth,
sometimes I think the turrets sank too far
in sleep, and I returned to that deep place,
and I remember. Just a little, but enough:
remember wandering in flooded rooms,
obsidian water flushing through the gills
this place requires, or remember weed
like rotted hair. And somewhere in the lost
place lie the dead things that are never dead:
gelatinous Cthulhu, and its power
to poison, or to swamp, those slender spires
that rise above the ceiling into day
with everything that’s otherwise obscure:
with stone-locked water and the liquid silt
of centuries, with kelp and octopi,
and jellyfish and urchins and the shoals
of silver reef-fish, and the wicked mouths
of moray eels thrashing in the light.


Dr. Catherine Carter
Director of English Education
421 Coulter Hall
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, NC 28723
(828) 227-3931