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Lesley Harrison Erasure Poems

The North Ron Light, Orkney
59° 23.359'N 002° 22.890'W

Ruins true refuge long last towards which so many false time out of mind. All sides endlessness earth sky as one no sound no stir. Grey face two pale blue little body heart beating
only upright. Blacked out fallen open four walls over backwards true refuge issueless.
     Scattered ruins same grey as the sand
ash grey true refuge. Four square all light sheer white blank planes all gone from mind. Never was but grey air timeless no sound figment the passing light. No sound no stir ash grey sky mirrored earth mirrored sky. Never but this changelessness dream the passing hour
     He will curse God again as in the blessed days face to the open sky the
passing deluge. Little body grey face features crack and little holes two pale blue. Blank planes sheer white eye calm long last all gone from mind.
     Figment light never was but grey air timeless
no sound. Blank planes touch close sheer white all gone from mind. Little body ash grey locked rigid heart beating face to endlessness. On him will rain again as in the blessed days of blue the passing cloud. Four square true refuge long last four walls over backwards no sound.
     Grey sky no cloud no sound no
stir earth ash grey sand. Little body same grey as the earth sky ruins only upright. Ash grey all sides earth sky as one all sides endlessness.
will stir in the sand there will be stir in the sky the air the sand. Never but in dream the happy dream only one time to serve. Little body little block heart beating ash grey only upright. Earth sky as one all sides endlessness little body only upright. In the sand no hold one step more in the endlessness he will make it. No sound not a breath same grey all sides earth sky body ruins.
     Slow black with ruin true refuge four walls over backwards no sound. Legs a single block arms fast to sides little body face to

Source text: Lessness, by Samuel Beckett. In Texts for nothing and Other Shorter Prose, 1950-1976. Faber & Faber, 2010.

The Arctic Pilot

     General information. - The coast line is
wholly in Russian territory, belonging to Russian Lapland, Russia proper, and western and eastern Siberia. To the westward are the Barents Sea and the White Sea ; eastward of Novaya Zemlya, the Kara Sea, and Arctic Ocean ; the shores of these seas are tolerably well known as far as a point some distance beyond the Yenisei River ; but beyond this point the constant ice in the Arctic Ocean renders navigation so difficult, and the sterility of the neighbouring shores makes exploration so impracticable, that even the contour of the land as shown on maps or charts can be considered as only approximately correct.
     In the western and frequented
parts of this territory, long stretches of coast line frequently bear local names besides the territorial designations already given ; thus, the coast of Lapland, westward of Kola Inlet, is named the Motovski Coast ; from Kola to Svyatoi Nos, the Murmanski Coast ; and southward of Svyatoi Nos to Kandalaksha, the Terski Coast.
The White Sea includes the space occupied by tidal waters southward of a line from Svyatoi Nos to Cape Kanin, the southernmost part being Nimengskaya Bay in the Gulf of Onega, and the westernmost part the head of the Gulf of Kandalakski, in lat. 67° 7’N., long. 32° E. It naturally forms northern and southern divisions ; from the northern part, the Gulf of Mezen extends southeastward, and the Gorlo (or throat) southwestward, the latter leading into the southern division, the open part of which is called the Basin. The Gulf of Arkhangel is southeastward of a line from the Zimniya Hills to Zhizhginsk Island ; the Gulf of Onega, partly occupied by islands, is southeastward of a line from Zhizhginsk Island to Kem, and the Gulf of Kandalakski extends northwestward form the Basin.
     The s
outheastern side of the Gorlo, from the entrance to the Gulf of Mezen to the northeastern side of the Gulf of Arkhangel, is known

Source text: The Arctic Pilot. Volume 1. The Coast of Russia .... Washington: Government Printing Office, 1917.

The Sea Bed

     When taking soundings, it must be borne in mind, that the sea bed, like
land, consists of hills, valleys, plains of sand or mud ; of rugged cliffs, sometimes
with abrupt faces, at others with jagged sloping sides, or strewn with boulders,
etc., etc.      A single cast of lead might mislead a mariner, as it might happen
to drop on a spot either much more shoal, or much deeper than
the average
soundings in
the neighbourhood.      This explains why fishermen find many soundings not shown on any chart.
     Fishermen sound every yard of
the sea under 200 fathoms in depth, and
find nearly every shoal, reef, or deep hole in
the sea.      A Government surveying
ship out at sea, only sounds a spot here and there, as a rule many miles apart.
The distances can easily be ascertained by following the line of soundage and
the distance between each.
     Note carefully
the distance between the soundings on the chart you are
using, and then plot your soundings accordingly on the chart.      Experience has demonstrated that as a rule a series of soundings plotted on a chart at
same distance, agree within a fathom or two with those shown on a chart, even in deep water.      In the case of a very foul bottom, the difference in
soundings may be even greater.      But a navigator in such cases will of course
use his common sense.

Source text: Close’s Fishermen’s Chart. Section 2. The North Sea. London: Edward Stanford, 1905. Price 10/-

Lesley Harrison lives and works on the north-east coast of Scotland. In her poetry and prose she examines the human process of inhabiting northern landscapes - physically, linguistically, imaginatively, subliminally. Her most recent collection is Blue Pearl (New Directions, 2017).
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