Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Port Meadow
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Rosamund lay in Godstow walls,
My love, my royal love she cried,
The abbess prayed and the winecup passed;
Wishes are horses and beggars ride.

A green-haired girl jumps down from her van,
A stud in her nose and a scar on her brow,
She runs with her dog and her dog with his fleas;
This place has never known the plough.

An archaeologist stirs the mound,
Sifts the dust where the bronze man died,
Some ash and a bone and a twisted ring;
Wishes are horses and beggars ride.

Where Rosamund lay the birthwort grows,
The hummocked walls are crumbled now
And plastic picnics strew the grass;
This place has never known the plough.

Seven crows perch in a poplar tree,
Eleven swans on the river glide,
Green with nitrates, heavy with lead;
Wishes are horses and beggars ride.

Geese on the racetrack, ghosts at the lock,
Undieselled ghosts at the narrowboat’s prow;
Wishes are horses and beggars ride,
This place has never known the plough.


Undated
Island City: Oxford poems by living poets, 1999