Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Avant-garde retreat
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Down in our old-world hamlet
There's thatch upon the roof,
There's moss between the cobbles,
But the locks are burglar-proof.
Within the double glazing
Geraniums stand in rows,
And by the fibre-glass chaise-longue
The wild thyme blows.
Deep, deep, deep is the well,
And so is the sunken bath;
Beat, beat, beat a retreat
Up the avant-garden path.

The master-bed is circular,
There's hessian on the wall,
The plastic chairs and sofas
Are blown up like a ball.
Among the objets trouvés
Scarce one is what it seems —
Psychedelic shapes beneath
The old oak beams.
Deep, deep, deep is the well,
And so is the sunken bath;
Beat, beat, beat a retreat
Up the avant-garden path.

Our automatic washer
Is washing every dish,
The ancient kitchen copper
Is full of tropic fish.
Come, peer into the diamond panes
And see what we're about;
Retreat, the agent said — perhaps
He meant a rout.
Deep, deep, deep is the well,
And so is the sunken bath;
Beat, beat, beat a retreat
Up the avant-garden path.

Our garden's gay with gillyflowers,
Stocks, mignonette and flags,
But we've bought our paper poppy kit
From the glossy Sunday mags.
Our colour-telly shows us
Where we're going, who we are

But we're torn between the village inn
And our built-in bar.
Deep, deep, deep is the well,
And so is the sunken bath;
Beat, beat, beat a retreat
Up the avant-garden path.

Heat from the chimney-corner
Goes underneath the floors,
And Aubrey Beardsley posters
Adorn our old barn doors.
Like the Duke of Plaza-Toro
Rear-leading the attack,
Or like a railway train, our van
Is at the back
Deep, deep, deep is the well,
And so is the sunken bath;
Beat, beat, beat a retreat
Up the avant-garden path.

An estate agent's advertisement described a house as an "avant-garde retreat".

Oxford Times, 10 October 1969 (minus verse 4)