Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

The painter and the reaper

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How satisfying the old stooks in the fields,
So well portrayed by Constable and son,
Immemorial, faintly anthropomorphic,
Upright or slumped, or splayed like gingerbread men,
Kissing kin to scarecrow and Aunt Sally,
Knowing their social position, orderly,
But natural, too, in their clumps
As mugwort or meadowsweet.

Then came machines to tie the straw in parcels,
(Did the cubists invent them, or they the cubists?)
And we soon loved them for their random solidity,
Their inexorable angles, sharp black shadows,
Crisp corners enhancing the hill’s soft contour,
Mah-jongg played on a flung silk tapestry,
But homely, too, tumbled dominoes
On the snug pub table.

And now curves again, these shaggy cylinders
Bowling across the downs, roly-poly,
Fat feast from a giant’s delicatessen
Oozily wrapped in ribbons of coconut.
Quick, artists ― fetch sketch-book before these are outmoded,
Or remembered only as we chubbily remember
Our childhood rolling hilariously
Down the giddy grassbank.

The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983