Before that day she looked up:
to her sisters, to dad, to the teachers.
Even mum, her friend was up there somewhere
pointing out the giant rules of not running,
not looking, not everything, not anything.
Then he came walking with his giraffe
gait, on his spindle legs,
she knew his wig was false, but bending down,
he lifted her into the great parade.
The red-nosed clown tooted his whistle,
waved an admonishing finger as they waltzed,
the stuffed teddy-bears cried no, the unicyclist
hid his eyes, the dancers tapped faster
but she held on. Dad’s hand was raised,
his eyes large, his bald patch visible,
mum’s mouth a startled O,
her sisters, witch-nosed, both pouted.
But she clung on, up there, looking
above the cloudy bar-room windows,
into bedrooms, wardrobes with hatboxes
stacked, the church steeple appeared
shorter, the parked cars all flat,
the stiltwalker humming that silly tune,
the crowd looking up until he lowered her
back to her parents, back to her big sisters,
down to earth, but changed in some way,
her family all cut down to size.