On Memory

Mollie O’Leary

Lukewarm beer, tinny and prickly 

on my tongue at 8 years old. 

My sister and I used to steal sips


of foam when dad turned

to kiss the other goodnight

in one of his better moods.


We would listen for footfalls, 

measured and sharp like 

the drawing of blood, 


and hurriedly bury ourselves 

under blankets before he threw

open the door in one of his other moods.


Through a small space

in the covers, we could glimpse

each other’s fate.


Memory is slippery

like a spill on the floor

that I rush to cover up


because being 

someone’s child

carries consequences:


Of all my children,

I thought you would have it

in your heart 


to forgive me. 

You are the most 

like your mother.

Mollie O’Leary received a B.A. from Kenyon College where she studied English and Philosophy. Her poems have been previously published or are forthcoming in HIKA Magazine, Riggwelter, and Cathexis Northwest Press. She grew up in Massachusetts and is currently an English teacher in Texas. @molliepoleary