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Mirror, you old jobsworth, you know

all my fractures

and keep your counsel.


Half-turn. There – twelve years old,

my scowl,

half confidence, half hope of better.


Eyes dip, and I’m in an aisle. A dress

my mother

liked and I did not.


Veiled dreams. That need to please,


make good, make safe. Make it out of there.


Between my brows one line of


cut two years later when he left.


Frail memory. It skims and

sinks away

as if it never happened.


A gleam. Breath held, I watch

my baby

reach – two steps, one step, three – and walk.


Decades splinter into

gemstone shards

we shake, twist, blend with artless grace.


You, mirror, witness all our pieces,


of loss and kisses.



© Rosie Johnston

Picture 11123621, photograph, early 20th century,  image copyright Mary Evans / Everett Old Visuals



Rosie Johnston’s fourth poetry book, Six-Count Jive, was published in March 2019 by Lapwing Publications in Belfast where she was born. Her poems have appeared or featured in London GripCulture NIFourxFour, The Honest UlstermanInk, Sweat & Tears, Hedgerow, Mary Evans Picture Library’s Poems and Pictures blog, Words for the Wild, From The Edge magazine and Live Canon’s anthologies 154: In Response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2016) and New Poems for Christmas (2018). She has read her poetry widely, most recently as part of the Canterbury Festival and in the Linen Hall Library and Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. She runs writing groups in Cambridge and Canterbury and is host of Whitstable’s monthly spoken word event, Word of Mouth.