things you must do without reminder

Alina Stefanescu


I tell myself: make your bed, brush those teeth. 
Each day brings new molars. 
Roll your halter down a sniffle at sunset.
Sink into anywhich hammock anywherever.
Don’t save up homage for perfect light. Go with
what’s given. Gulp down the scent
of first stars in the sky. Weave them into bracelets
for a man with dark hair on his back. 
Any house you love will be haunted
because love is haunted
because light is a hue of how much
you should race spilled bleach across linoleum tile
to see who gets where first. 
Curl into the couch and relive the moments
through embroidery. A string
in the head is a thread of epistolary.
Hum the needle, the needle, the nod. 
Give up envy for empathy when faced with
neon. Keep giving things up until you
know you can’t be honest without them. 
Dry the bathed child by hand with a towel. 
There is only one chance to be gentle
before developing a habit. Show him
how you make your bed. 
Now make it. Make it. Fold it over
backwards. Carry your hopes
to his head in a story. Tuck him in bedbug tight. Snoopy kiss slobber goodnight. 
Summon fairies to keep Yeats in his ear at low pitch
because the drone must be poetry
because the beat must be white space
and lines that keep breaking
you open. Covet enthrallment. 
Admit there are truths you avoid. Admire the exhausted waitress
who carries trays anyway. Thank her for the food, 
tip her well for this night freed from cooking. 
Roll across the grass with loose hair. Let twigs wreak
their subtle sweet havoc. Roll until your breath becomes
a long hollow tunnel through sheets and pillows
and pajamas. Make your wild bed, your wonder. 
If it turns into an unexpected coffin, 
know you can live with it forever.


Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama. Find her poems and prose in recent issues of Juked, DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, New Orleans Review Online, and others. Her debut fiction collection, 'Every Mask I Tried On', won the 2016 Brighthorse Books Prize and is available from Brighthorse Books in May 2018. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. More arcana online at or @aliner.


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