Lesley Harrison

We feature work by poet Lesley Harrison to mark National Poetry Day 2010

'One bird flying' cover

Lesley Harrison grew up in Dundee but now lives in Orkney. One of her previous poetry pamphlets, 'Sea stories' published by Pinkfoot Press, was runner-up in the 2006 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. At present, Lesley is collaborating with Orkney-based artist Laura Drever on a pamphlet and exhibition of drawings and poems about birds.

These two poems are taken from 'One bird flying', published by Mariscat Press and runner-up in the 2010 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.

The poems draw on Lesley's experiences working in Mongolia during 2007-2008, and are inspired by the landscape and weather of the region, as well as by 'The journals of Marco Polo'.


A woman makes the earth

A woman makes the earth
flat to hold her tent, her hard feet
pacing out its girth from hub to rim
round in the milky air.

Laying out the moons on the grass
she wraps herself in colours
as the ground wrinkles into hills
and sunlight slides towards her.

Her arms are brown as branches,
lifting a wall, hanging words and mirrors
the roof wheel's shadow
spidering her butter lamps, her dresser
one eye open to the sun

as she felts the last bones
nodding to the brow of hills
crow-stepping into her shadow
a door in a bowl of wind
the sky stretched over.




Green is a secret colour.
It is earth, fire and water
burnt together;

a storm light
the first willow buds
the smell of snow melt.

It is the end of winter:
a mountain lake, its jade skin
delicate and fractured.

It is an absence of colour:
a sea dawn
a cold spring day

as geese arrive
just before the new grass
and lay their transparent eggs;

a young horse rooting in the scrub
a yurt of willow twigs,
thin smoke rising.


National Poetry Day 2010


Speak me