Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

To George: Lent 1985
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Remember the Cretan sky and the nameless monastery
Beached in a gold-gorse, lavender-purple sea?
There, between dusty trackway and ancient olive grove
We sat in the shade close, close together as always,
Eating pistachio nuts from a paper bag,
And watched a sardinia warbler tirelessly shuttling
Beakfuls of flies to her hungry brood in a bramble.

Then came the hoopoes and cuckoos threading the pines,
Perching about us and calling their magical names
In a northward pause en route for a colder spring.

Some blisses are not for recapture: fools to return,
We crunched underfoot next day not our nutshells
But red cartridge cases.  The thicket was silent.
I gathered the feathers, extravagant hoopoe feathers
With their elegant sharply improbable stripes,
And I wept, and you tried to comfort me.
I thought I knew why I was weeping,
But I did not know, not until now.

Now I weep and you cannot comfort me;
Huddled in your old anorak’s discarded plumage,
I have come to a colder spring.


1985