Wednesday, 8 April 2009

'I by force suddenly caught him in my arms

& flew westerly thro’ the night, till we were elevated above the earth’s shadow; then I flung him directly into the body of the sun: here I clothed myself in white’.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf is breaking away from Antarctica. New to the Wilkins Ice Shelf I looked for it on Google earth. The satellite image is from ten years ago, so it’s like looking at a star – you go back in time. Back then, it's difficult to see what's what, just white on white.

You can imagine apprentice mapmakers being given Antarctica to train on, as an easy way in: The white one down the bottom: tell us if it changes shape. The man thrown into the sun might have been a bad apprentice; his retribution climate-inspired.

The mapmaker's excuse

There are too many shades of white here.

White ice turns white-blue
and blue-white sea-ice turns white-grey-black with shadow as blocks crack away.

I’ve got to keep up with the whites of Wilkins, Bach, Larsen, George VI
and Wordie, which disappeared the other day,

each stuck to mainland ice with a white seam.
Which, in truth, would all be bearable if I didn’t hope for disaster

to show the clear lines of rock and sea.


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