Day 84: Clown –

WP_20151206_003The first thing I bought (waiting)
suspended from a stripey
papier mâché balloon.

I hung it above his cot
and in that first year
would act a little game
as I settled him down at dusk
or greeted him in first light –
bending (not quite enough)
I’d catch clown, make him tremble,
then pull a crosspatch face:  Naughty clown!
You bumped me on the head.
At the end of that first year
my son turned silent, caught in a world
without play or make-believe.

Clearing out baby things years later
I strung it up anyway –
hung it in his nearly-teenage room
of toddler videos and Thomas the Tank.
He raised his sloppy point, gestured
at my head and (not remembering)
I looked behind me, perplexed.
Then he stood up, pushed me
into the papier mâché clown –
bump bump bump on the side
of your head, mummy –
and laughed me straight in the eye.

I sat down on his bed:  Naughty clown
I whispered.  You bumped me on the head.
You naughty clown to make me cry,

to raise my perfect baby from the dead.


WP_20151206_005I’m slowly getting around to the jobs I judged too disruptive to embark on while Dylan lived at home. The builder is due tomorrow so while Dylan was watching Harry Potter this afternoon I finished clearing out the attic. There were only a few things left to move – books and pictures mostly – and one or two items I wasn’t sure what to do with. Clown was one such thing; he hung in Dylan’s room until recently but after emergency re-stringing had been retired to the attic.

I continue to be convinced that Dylan has deep memories of clown. As I took clown down from his hook in the attic I toyed with the idea of letting Dylan take him to his care home to hang in his room there. I love the mash up of childhood and adulthood and have no problem with Dylan continuing to engage with objects intended for someone much younger. Perhaps I shouldn’t encourage this, though, now Dylan is in adult residential care? Maybe Dylan wouldn’t want clown parachuting into his all-grown life?

Dylan, would you like to take clown with you? I asked before we set off back to the care home tonight. Dylan didn’t push me into clown but his gesture seemed to say Yes. I hung clown in one of Dylan’s windows. As I left tonight, at dusk, I looked up at Dylan’s room from the car park; I could see clown, trembling still.


‘Clown – ‘ was published in my collection Walking on Tiptoe (Bluechrome Press, 2007)

3 thoughts on “Day 84: Clown –

  1. A beautiful piece. And you show what I am always saying to the people I work with – start by knowing that others take in more than you realise, and build from there. Just because someone can’t always tell you what they are thinking, doesn’t mean that they aren’t thinking on a much deeper level.


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