Elegy for a Clown
SANDPOINT –“The Idaho State Police are investigating an apparent suicide that occurred in the Bonner County jail Tuesday, September 27. Jeremy, 20, was found by detention staff.
Even at seven you were a natural Harpo,
too loose clothes, big shoes
nothing ever really fit you,
a fool too simple for reading
but already a master of gesture.
“Teacher, Teacher, I did a trick today.
They teased me at the bus and I did a trick.
and they laughed. Watch.”
A sweeping gesture of generosity,
the open hands
and expectant smile,
head tipped sideways
one shoe up,
the grand bow.
An innocent stooge,
pockets stuffed with cafeteria food.
They found you duct-taped to a bed
your thin wrists wound motionless
to the rail. For endless days
your biggest trick, the smile, taped shut.
I tried to send face paint and books
but there was a wall
of institutional silence.
Now, at 20, your final trick:
head oddly cocked on a rope,
hands hanging loose,
a silent mime in the end.
How the angels
must have gathered
with their big red noses,
the saltimbanques, the payasos-
big shoes and soft bellies,
choirs of buffoons.
How their large hands must have lifted you,
rocked you with hilarious laughter.
Silly you, coming in with a cord at your belly
and leaving with one at your neck.
Little clown, I salute you.
My own face colored by your news,
I lift the bubble wand and blow,
float in your direction.
“Elegy for a Clown” is reprinted from Stringtown.
Sandra Meade’s poetry has been published in Stringtown and Raven Chronicles, and she recently received a Pushcart nomination for her poem “Elegy for a Clown.” In 2012 she wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Caty Beth Chooses.” Originally from Montana, Sandra Meade received her B.A. in Education from the University of Montana where she studied under Richard Hugo. She currently resides in a handbuilt stone house in the piney woods near Newport, Washington with her husband Mike, where she was a public elementary school teacher for over two decades. She is founder and director of Scotia House, a Pacific Northwest Spiritual Retreat, open to all faiths and traditions. She is a member of Spiritual Director’s International and received her certification in spiritual direction from Gonzaga University in 2003. Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing, and playing the bodhran.