Crooked bird

Crooked bird


The word used was scoliosis

A curvature of the spine

That led to three days a week in the clinic

The straight backed women wore

Starched white coats and eyes of coldness

Eyes that are blank cold

Give out that signal

Eyes that told us be careful

We walked into bare white walled rooms

Yellow pine floors narrow high windows

Our mothers sat unknowing outside

The room swam with the sickening smell

Of pine maybe carbolic disinfectant


One wall was lined with wooden bars

Yellow pine bars from the floor to the ceiling

We were told

Take off your clothes

Except for underwear


So we sat silently on the benches

A line of crooked birds


We were told to climb the bars

Take our feet off the bars

And hang by our hands

And stare at the opposite wall.

It was a place to straighten out

The crookedness of our crooked backs


We were small thin young children

We did what we were told

We shared this endurance silently

We shared our bravery in silence too

Our courage with stubbornness


So we hung from the bars to straighten

Our crooked backs  like birds on a wire

Hanging out stretched

Our arms aching


When the pain of stretching

Made us cry

Tears brushed away with our own hands

On to bodices and vests

There was no warmth here

The quietness of endurance

We share, fades, spills

On the floor and disappears

It was a place to stretch the curve

And crookedness out of us

We were told to lie

Flat on the yellow wood floor

To flatten and straighten


Those who were unable

Had braces fixed

To their backs


Braces fixed to backs

To straighten

Crooked birds


And so it went on

Year after year

Straightening crooked birds


The walk home was best

A wagon wheel or malt-teasers

A treat for a crooked bird’s braveness


We crooked birds observe

The world at a different angle

We learn to think

Out of the box

Straightened people

Try to fix us in

It is like a fixation straight people have

To make everything the same

And if you don’t fit

You’re just not the same

A reject?

But crooked birds have a different habit

Of turning the world upside down

Looking from a different direction

Giving something more to life

To a world that’s become monochrome

In its drabness

So let’s go on breaking down the walls of boxes.








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