Leviathans

By C.S. MacCath

It was not enough; the Hafgufa,

whale-eater, ship-swallower,

rock-toothed maw of the deep,

insouciant crusher of vikings

into bone splinter and driftwood.

It was not enough; the Lyngbakr,

heather-backed false island,

splitting fathoms to air its blossoms

and diving again, like any heedless behemoth,

with Örvar's luckless men on its shoulders.

Those krakens of saga, primeval beasts,

implacable as deepwater currents,

birthed from the World's abyssal womb

to chasten sailors who fouled Her blood;

they were, in the long telling, not enough.

"As far as scientists can tell, the undersea oil is actually a witch's brew of crude mixed with dissolved methane, stretching 15 miles long, 5 miles wide, and 300 feet thick in the case of one plume detected by the Pelican, and 22 miles long, 6 miles wide, and 3,000 feet thick in the case of a plume found by University of South Florida researchers aboard the WeatherBird II last week. The latter plume reaches all the way to the surface."[1]

Now slick leviathans spew from the sediment;

mephitic fiends, nameless, insensate,

pitchy tentacles undulating inland,

dragging the seabed, aquiver with methane,

shaming the World with Her own shit—

while brown pelicans blacken,

feathers clotted, bills dripping crude

into hungry, hatchling mouths,

and bottlenose dolphins slip to the shoreline,

toothy grins fixed in a death-rictus.

Far below, the slumbering krakens never waken.

Hafgufa gapes, cavernous gullet

choked with tarballs. Lyngbakr bursts,

carapace crushed under too many carcasses.

Inadequate monsters, undone by their betters.

[1] Begley, Sharon. "What the Spill Will Kill." Newsweek. 06 June 2010. Web. 07 June 2010.


C.S. MacCath's fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Murky Depths, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit and others. When she isn't writing, she plays traditional Celtic and West African music. You can see more of her work at her website and in our archives.