for Sheridan Smith
My father’s bedroom slippers had labels
that glowed in the dark, rectangles
in the instep of each slipper. At night
he placed his slippers beside the double bed
shared with my mother. As a child,
suffering from nightmares,
I’d wake in the middle of the night,
tiptoe like a burglar through the house,
to see those two glowing patches guiding
me to my father’s side of the bed where
I’d curl on the floor, a furtive thing.
We stayed overnight at the house of new friends.
I heard my mother wonder
if I would be able to find them
in this strange house. After
I woke from the bad dream, I fell
before I found the room with the glowing
slippers and my parents breathing
strongly in the dark.
© Barbara Alfaro