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a flat, cold and hard mirror is the portal we cannot fall into. it shows a world identical to the
one behind us, but it is a world we cannot reach. it is hung on walls, propped on floors and
carried around in bags. it is for safety, vanity, photography, energy. it is mundane, enchanted
and cursed, but these lists mean nothing unless you are staring right into the dilated pupils of
your own reflection. an infant presses its hands against the silvery glass and can feel the
impenetrability on its tiny whorls, bloodless yellow tips push hard against the mercurial sheet.
the infant can lick it and taste nothing or scratch it with fingernails and make no mark. the
infant can play with it mindlessly, but soon it will see the outlines of things, the outlines of its
own skin and the two dimensional compression of its vastly confusing life filled with rubble and
furs. the infant will see its edges and think i am inside me, its skin feels suddenly tight around
its organs and it realises it can be picked up, held, passed around just like the mirror it stares
into. this discovery is far larger than the frame of any mirror. my mirror was in a glass box. it
was the bottom panel of a thin, lead framed cube and i used to imagine entering an infinite
kingdom through the reflection of my own foot. the glass was thin and painted with forget-me-nots,      held together with lead and two silver hinges for the lid. it was too small to stand in, but
the edge of the box could be pressed upon gently, rough outdoor kid feet pushing on the rim
until light red grooves appeared on thick soles. the edges of me wanted to slip though and
cascade into another universe, but it was never more than a light red groove. i knew then i
belonged in this slate floored room with my brother on the sofa and the shadows of moving
tree branches outside and that the sole of my foot would forever be the sole of my foot. i feel
my edges still. when i sat exams in that cold wooden games hall, pen perpendicular to the table
to stop it constantly rolling down the slanted desk, i felt my edges and knew there was the
same me contained within that had woken up one month ago and not had a single frisson of
adrenaline in the blood. it was the same me who would wake up next week and be thinking
about something else. it was the same me who had cereal in the evening and a string of beads
on her car keys. when my heart starts to beat fast and i canít trust my body to reach safety, i
feel my edges and remember the unmelting glass box against my muddy feet. when i am
paddling breathless and thereís salt gritting my throat and iím so cold my lungs will not pump
and i think maybe i am too close to the rocks, i peel back the sleeve of my wetsuit and i see
some freckles and some chickenskin hair follicles and i feel my edges and know that i can be
fleetingly wise. i feel my edges and remember the cosy and the dry, i remember that land is
over there and i can get there in seconds. i remember all the nights iíve felt stifled and bored,
too comfortable too warm in cotton duvet calm. i remember that these edges, this wrist, those
shins are all part of the girl i have always been Ė a stable house with walls that will protect the
soft peach heart inside. these moments regenerate and reoccur on any day, the edges are
never smoothed by the tide and will always be felt by fingertips seeking reassurance.
they are in the powderskin of a showered elbow, lips resting on the relaxed muscle creased.
they are in cushions that smell of home and the mud in between the goalposts.
they are in hot lightbulbs, turned off when the room is left empty and dark
they are in silence, candles, 7ft waves and the click of the central heating.
they are there and buried, tied to a nerve that pulls them to the surface.
i saw those two circles of red low down on my cheeks and remembered
school uniform, baked beans, plaits, and hating dressing up.
singing and blushing and crying and doing all these other
things that i still do now, bits of adult and child mixing
together to build the heartbeat small feet loose hair
running girl who knows so well her own reflection
and who will always answer to the same name,
always be able to roll her tongue doubled over
just like her mother can and who will always
reach down at the desk or in bed
and touch her firm limbs to
feel her edges
and realise
i am