I’m beginning to know what it’s like to be a clown. A poem by Amy Gaffney

To hide my soul and grease paint a smile on my face
to open my eyes and my heart to the human race,
to daub colour on clouds that might otherwise cry
to run like the wind and pretend I can fly
to dance around the kitchen out of time of the beat
to crack eggs on my head and to grin in defeat
to juggle time with two hands as if an illusion
to pop the balloons I have blown in a fit of delusion
to make a silly joke to make them laugh
to fall and tumble on the garden path
to stand against the board as knives whizz towards me
to be brave in the moment and keep stand firmly
on the ground made of sawdust in a tent made of dreams
to change their reality to quieten their screams.

I’m beginning to master this clowning around
I’ve trained my ears to listen out for the sound
of crying into pillows behind closed doors
to hear midnight shuffles on cold kitchen floors
to sing out of tune for the sake of a giggle
to dance like no one is watching with finesse and a wiggle
to see the despair in the back of their eyes
to change their perspective with mimes and surprise
to dance backwards and forwards with a huge grinning smile
to soften their fears for a little while
to fall over and over and over and over
to remove from their world this over exposure
of worry and terror of death and decay
to shelter them from all this dismay.

For the people who watch me are people I love
who take their direction from how I fall and get up
from how I laugh and how I cry
from when I sleep and when I wake
I do it all for their sweet sake.

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