Switching Sides

I knew her for a long time
Only as the girl with boys’ shoes.
Shoes that were a bit too big.
A bit too shabby, a bit too heavy.
She trudged in them,
First left, then right,
One big boys’ shoe at a time,
Switching sides along the way.

The teachers didn’t mind
And I wondered why.

‘Cause she also had a jute sack?
A DIY school bag,
Home-stitched and home-patched,
And a string attached to heave it.
She carried it,
First left, then right,
One stooped shoulder at a time,
Switching sides along the way.

‘Cause she also had stone dust?
Always in her wiry hair,
The mineral dandruff itching.
She scratched at it,
First left, then right,
One fingernail at a time,
Switching sides along the way.

‘Cause she also had ab-lumps?
Like stones she hammered after school.
Crushing, on a bed, with her weight,
She tossed about
First left, then right,
One tumour at a time,
Switching sides along the way.