Dancing Dust

Poems by Mollie Caird (1922-2000)

Via Dolorosa

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An Arab, old as history, blind as night
His broken sandals shuffling, dusty grey,
His fingers crawling on the wall for sight,
Creeps snail-pace inches down the dolorous way.

Clumped tourists with their marvel-peddling guides,
Sprayed by a peppery fire of holy hail,
Record the Stations of the Cross on slides,
Attending to their filters, not the tale.

Of figs and Hebron glass they chatter gaily,
(Here Christ was tried, here flogged, here stumbled, faint)
How stands the dollar with the pound Israeli,
(Here was he lent her kerchief by the saint,

Here was he nailed, here hung upon the tree,
Here wept the women when his life was gone.)
And when, next winter, over cake and tea
They show their coloured slides in Michigan,

That Arab, blind as history, old as night,
His dirty broken sandals shuffling still,
Will be, his fingers deputies for light,
Some inches further down the dolorous hill.

The Dancing Dust and other poems, 1983