Saturday, June 21, 2008

Clowns at a Funeral

Sami, Adam and I went to a funeral this afternoon, for our good friend Harold, a clown. He died in his sleep last week. At the funeral, in the sanctuary of our downtown church, other clowns kept trickling into the service to pay their respects to their departed friend. The sight of these clowns - most of whom were in costume - so jolted and delighted me that I started scribbling this free-verse poem on the back of the bulletin:

I saw clowns at a funeral this afternoon.
Four of them.
Sitting right up front, in the center
of the church's front pew,
their cartoonish figures cutting through the would-be melancholy of grief.
Purple clouds of hair.
Plaid shirts.
Bold, orange suspenders.
Red hats, sparkling like Dorothy's ruby slippers.
The pastor couldn't look at them;
she kept staring at the ceiling
biting her bottom lip,
choking back giggles.
The image of those clowns among the mourners stood out
like the opening line of a Lyle Lovett song:
I went to a funeral, and Lord it made me happy...

I saw clowns at a funeral this afternoon.

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