The Missing Top Hat

It was the best sandwich he’s ever had
His grin bright, against the colours of summer,
I smile and put down my fork.
A silver sedan rounds the bend taking flight
As silent as a hot air balloon floating on the wind.
Like a slot car off the track
It twists and flips in a flashy glint,
Down the grassy knoll – the reel fails.
My treasure, his back to the road
The whites of his eyes widening
Watches in the bakery’s clean glass
A scene less real than television.
Across the street, the people moving by
With hats and bags, are punched
And split like ten pins,
A tall man is flipped extra high
Like a juggler’s extra flick
Making time for another baton.
But he’s dropped, and falls badly.
He ricochets back up  – as if the path
Was made of hot coals.  He’s looking all about.
He flew higher than he was tall.
A broken clock waits for him to sit crumpled.
My sunshine, watching in the glass.

Our gaze turns to a single sound
That once begins, doesn’t stop
Like a naked girl after napalm, he appears
Pausing on the road, empty hands outstretched,
Screaming, screaming, Mum!  Mum!
Like strands of party poppers, the colour of blood
From his golden crown to his knees.
The beachside hub becomes a postcard
From ocean to shiny shops, from pier to pub.
It’s high summer yet all is still and quiet.
Only the tall man looking for his top hat
Only the boy screaming.

He’s outside of himself and the sun glares
Only his family will do – where are they?
The ten pins, collected
By a faulty machine and not returned.
The summer café chatter charges silent
Doctors disguised in this seasons Havanas
And sunburn, press play and converge.
I don’t have to decide to move, so I hug my son.
We make our way back to our holiday
And in a week, take the inland route home.
The boy’s family take a helicopter.