Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Second thoughts on dust motes

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I remember when I was three, the magic dust motes quivering
In the bright morning beam across a dark hall;
My swift snatches ― how could I fail to entrap them?
But in my uncurled little fist always nothing.

Twenty-five years on, and I watched my son;
Another sunbeam, another country, but the same brief drama:
Snatch, catch, the empty hand, magic and mystery,
Small conjuror's inadvertent legerdemain.

Time and the world turn.  In my cottage bedroom
Invaded by morning sun and morning grandson
Are the beam, the motes, the little scooping hand ―
Fascination and frustration.

So must it have always been; the infant hominid,
Charmed with this golden gift in the east-facing cleft,
Reached his dark little hand across the dark cave.
And so it will always be; perhaps in a cave again
My grandson's great-grand-daughter's child will laugh,
Weep and laugh at the sunbeam's elusive illusion.

Disenchantment, praise God, is not an inherited characteristic.

Concentration flags.  My grandson catches my eye,
And we smile across years and aeons ―
Sympathetic and conspiratorial.

Undated, about 1980
The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983