The Serial Killer’s Slippers

A new poem by Sarah Byrne.

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sat at the foot of his bed
each time he left his room

for an appointment or visit
he would change into brogues

the storyline of those
brought in another direction

for example to the hospital shop
to buy bourbons and cola or to ask

a doctor to let him go or to beg
a nurse for a mail-order catalogue

so that he could order copies
of the same blue shirt that he adored

the slippers looked sad on the cold
easy-to-wipe lino and I tried

to grow him from those
brown velvet pedals rooted

there without him when I passed
his room on my way to the kitchen

I had only seen the back of him
an outline shuffling to catch up

with its cast of skin I filled in his body
in tubes his calves his thighs his pillowed waist

I grew him a version of a chest it bloomed
out of the stalk of what I was making

of him of what I was making of him
and where his face fell I fixed a rose.

Sarah Byrne is a writer based in West Cork, Ireland. She is the editor of The Well Review.

This article first appeared in the 13 July 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit farce