September 2021

Back to Issue 10

Atlantis to Valles Marineris

By Jena Woodhouse

from sponge divers to cosmonauts  


The helmets came too late to save us,

 as did the new diving-suits, but arrived

 in time to aid the cosmonauts.


 Now we saw the grasslands of the deep

 through glass, while they donned visors

 to assay the stars.


 The rituals of setting off and coming home

 were known to both, but they preferred

 the saltpans of the galaxy to our dark sea.


 We shared the same uncertainty:

 six months on land, six months away;

 but we had glimpsed Atlantis,

 ocean’s psychotropic mystery.


Their mission was a reckoning 

 involving eros and the sun,

 where cosmic charioteers confront

 Apollo on the plane of Mars.


 Like them, we had been touched 

 by the sublime, and stalked

 by the unknown: the mystique 

 of risking all; the tale one owns.



Note: From the cycle “The Sea, the Stars, and Kalymnos”, 

inspired by the sponge-diving tradition of that Aegean island.