Remember the chill of December and the things that kept you warm.
Remember wool socks, heating bills you couldn’t afford,
the bricked-in fireplace, the whiskey and the wine, his big arms
that were the warmest of all but became boa constrictors overnight.
Remember how you narrowly escaped that death but sometimes wish you hadn’t.
Remember the lyrics to all your favorite pop-punk song from middle school
even though you have tried to make room for more useful things in your brain.
Remember how to conjugate in Spanish and irregularities and false cognates..
Remember PEMDAS and the preamble and
the first time you had sex and
the first time you fell in love and
remember them as the shithead boys that they were
even if maybe that’s not fair—
No, fuck them, it totally is.
Remember to walk with your keys between your fingers like claws
if you ever find yourself alone at night and
when you spill your red wine,
that’s Jesus’ blood on your hands.
Remember what your mom said about getting stains out of carpets
and remember to call so she doesn’t get lonely,
or maybe so you don’t get lonely.
Remember how you tried to run but every time you forgot how to tie your shoes.
Remember broken promises and ticket stubs and your first period
and Jupiter’s great red spot.
Remember when you were eight and had skinned knees
and cried every day for two months when you realized
yes, even your parents, even you will die.
Remember the plan you devised for your youngest brother to find a wife
so that when the rest of you had gone, he wouldn’t be alone.
Remember pouring glasses of milk and blowing bubbles
that ran over the rim of the cup and spilled onto the counter and
trying not to get any in your mouth because you hate milk, always have.
Remember when you read that “love is a battlefield”
so you went out and bought a full suit of armor.
Remember that no matter how hard you try to hide
your pain it will always find a way to emerge
like a pimple on your prom night.
Remember that water boils at 212°F but
blood boils in the heat of the moment.
Remember nutrition facts and summer rain and palindromes like kayak.
Remember where you’re going and where you’ve been
and how to read the stars so you don’t have to stop for directions.
Olivia Braley is a mostly-poetry writer from Annapolis, MD, where she is pursuing her Masters of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College. She is a cofounder and Editor in Chief at Stone of Madness Press and a Reader for Longleaf Review. Her work has appeared in Longleaf Review, perhappened mag, The Daily Drunk, Versification and other places on the web. Keep up with her work on Twitter @OliviaBraley.