Raasay slideshow
Raasay Iron Mine 1912-1942


The documentary form asks only for what’s viable
Given the sea’s great indifference
And the mountain’s great indifference given
There used to be treasure in the pit                                                                                      heugh
That was ate stood with water up to their knees
But today, ferric rain: a cloud deposits orange onto leaf and
Debars the old mine from futurity to talk                                               mèinn
Around the element is to respect
An asperity of tunnels shot through the gneiss split
Myriad divided and multiferrous shale                                                               blaes
Selves a carnal memory of extraction


Corridors damp with mineral spread upper                                               alchymy
Gorse sentinels guard the hunt for origin with
Dirtied orifice the oolitic
Salvage for mineral bloom                                                                                                       excambion
Ruin season the ore the
Cooked labour echo-
Lalia; now the metal detector informs on its kin
Hid features turned inwards
Like a mineshaft or depression but the mind is                             wreck
Predatory all soft matter seeking relic
Of industry, moss and bracken bangs
Clung to bank the mine mouth                                        fankled
Closed its throat plucked bare now residue
Forest reclaims with fragments:
WA  N           OLD
Pause, sniff, lick the sodden planks don’t
Ask the weather lapsing overhead or iron’s                                                    maggie-blaes
Sticky participate stretched orange into sea
The sludge bed bloom between ferrous toes


Settle instead under corrugate, a sheet                                                             barges
Waxed from earth to leave raw strip smarting
Like hangnail pulled to bone its folding                               dook
Is a difficult language, mimicking land’s
Crumple to mountains, warping parental
Orogenous zones this corrugation is baby talk
Little echoscape, little terraform
They found the island cracked
With growing pains woke early in the century to
Shoot tunnels and flood with employ was considered the organic                         trowhole
Thing in the sense of workable lungs harpooned
Of indigenous will and otherwise ferried then three
Decades later island winced and rolled over                                     toom
Dùn Caan flatline
Left machinery scanty and mine mouths stoppered
Trestle, viaduct and parapet
Still leaky consolation to                                                                                            taigle the cleek
Give up the document


This light is getting nothing no caul of worksong
Teutonic undertone or standard issue boot on
Stone no homoacoustics of metal
On metal no head scuff on cave
Roof which is sky lidded on reverse                                                                                                          tirr
Shadowplay: to begin in the day and mulch
Down to night with quartz star and filigree
Asterism look up as night drips face
Mouth nose eyes you                                                              braird
Mineralise would the damp then be a mirror
Peddled between two nights: one for your dry foot,
The other a rice field, ice judders steering your
Back clamped vice-like to earth you begin to address as                        burthen
‘She’, shuttle and clog through veins, the wrong way down                                          gaw
‘Her’ one-way stream
Nubs of dismantlable self stuck
Fast there prised with tools marking not-
Ations in lacustrine dark where shadows are the
Inheritors of bodies riddled with
Tinnitus of industry and
Arthritis of industry that live on in bone and tissue where                                                            thimble
A woman’s echo is a profane thing
Hallucinate treasure where deep enough the rock
Will coo and sing and girders rust to
Striate this hauntology of drops


Or by the old entrance your body a
Cursor hovering over slate marking one
End a headstone where work was reborn each day                                      darg
Trackbed from the shaft into light lain through banks of wetsuit                              wyper-shaft
Moss and batting fern memorial strapped
Like limpets see these memories
Everywhere: even the bracken droops with
Rust and the autumn is seasonal rust                                                   white-damp
And the tree-leaves rust and fall like stones and the sky
Rusts the skies rust
The sky


Is extraction always violence frames the mine
Puckering its mouths with the question
The verdant drip became stalactitial and ore
Hardened in the blood when people clattered to the
Floor like utensils a
Factory line of pins and parts
Caesarean sections the bracken and oil a clean                                   pourie
Incision the Princess Steel still waiting for her prision
With tongs in the earthgut, the membrane perforator
Forceps and fillet, vectis and crochet, decap-
Itating hook and cleidotomy skewers                                                                        cleek
‘She’ couldn’t deal with the excess of herself
Now deposit in the miners’ lungs pebbles
Under miners’ fingernails the miners’
Napes the miners’ sinuses the
Miner’s sociability the miners’ oral narrative potential
Old mine wheezes over the Sound treetops
Misted to valley and peak, ferry
On the water, ferrous under foot
Trod hard with indenture whose last sliver of                                                                        orra man
Daylight and flit of tree, fern speck, crag wort and sky leaf
Patch of cloud before guzzled into rock now dis-
Inclined to sleep indoors internalise the tunnel                                         cuddie-brae
Mineralise the psyche encrusting
Speech but we could sit outside the mine and have a cup of tea
I could bring a flask and if the weather holds the weather
Holds it all together we


I disagree with discolouration because the
Authentic colour is precisely the lack of it says
The lichen and I am generally supportive of deviation from the
Authentic as birdsong clots the entrance with                                                   whin-gaw
Lyric transcendence and statistics whir through soil
Demanding my attention yes
Unwelcome domus sprung around the mouth like                ca
Impetigo children play yellowing
Out to the corrugate waves sporting
Sores and wounds arroyos of
Ochre the azure streak dapple
The goose-bumped island once trampled with heat                                                                       steg
An effigy to ‘Her’ on the harbour a heifer
Of oxidised limbs gone skyward tits
To the heavens orifice to
Origin land purpling bruise then
Burst over velveteen wipe-down
Audience clutching a black and white photo
Of the harbour the hopper the furnace                                                  yoke
The veritable relics of industry reflection
Of the audience in monochrome gloss the camera it
Also informs on its kin


Note: Scottish mining terms from





[Daisy Lafarge is studying for a PhD in Glasgow. Her work has appeared in publications such as Poetry London, Poetry Review and The White Review (online). A pamphlet is forthcoming from Sad Press.]

Copyright © 2017 by Daisy Lafarge, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.