Double-jointed Girls

by Pam Newham

Behind the bicycle shed the older boys
passed around a single joint, while
on the playground, we sat in a circle
and watched the double-jointed girl.
Her skirt tucked into her pants,
she did incredible things with her limbs.
Like a bizarre bird she stood on one leg,
the other pulled up flat against her back.
She manoeuvred her rubbery shoulders
and made us shriek.
She bent her thumbs backwards
to reach her wrists.

I longed to be a double-jointed girl.

Years later, somewhere on a stage,
a troupe of Mongolian girls
with white faces and red lips
flipped backwards on hands and feet
and, with dispassionate eyes,
stared at us through their legs.
Then, like human scorpions,
slowly sidled around in circles.

I thought, so this is what life unfurls
for double-jointed girls.
I thought, perhaps it’s just as well
we do not get to choose.
I thought, it’s better to be
a single-jointed girl
who spends her time
pulling up,


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