Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Starling roost
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They come from all quarters, their millions bewilder the eye,
Watching the warp and woof of their aerial weaving,
A checked shepherd’s tartan flung round the shoulders of evening,
Huge intricate ballet danced on the stage of the sky.

Like a dark blizzard they flutter and fall to the floor,
Innumerable flakes of volcanic black ash on the stubble,
Then explode in a fountain, a shattered gargantuan bubble,
Inky sparks from a fire, or jetty spume dashed on the shore.

Budded and blossomed with starlings, stark trees bare of leaves
Burgeon with birds, strange fruit, iridescent, a-quiver,
Susurration and scrabble set house-top and barn in a shiver,
Crenellated and scalloped with starlings the chimney and eaves.

Appleton, Tubney and Fyfield, quiet villages three,
But among them at dusk walks the giant winnower, flinging
His flail of black chaff on the pearly sky. Still winging
And winging they come, and they sound like the sound of the sea.


Oxford Times, 29 November 1968
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983