The Red Slide
by Sarah Lilius

The metal mountain stood apart
from the other equipment like a god.

It was the 80s and the slide,
fire engine red with a silver mirror front
terrified me in the heat of summer.

Taller than my father, I saw the top
in the clouds made of elephants and rabbits.

If I wore a skirt that day, slid wrong,
it would burn like childhood in hindsight.

The slide would haunt me
like finding new love—

that first hand hold, a small grip similar
to my father’s as we walked back home.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author’s school picture from first grade, around age seven.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There was a park close to my house where I grew up in Illinois. My father would take me frequently there. The big red slide feels like a huge part of my childhood and the memory has become part of me. I think of it often since the passing of my father. I was happy when this bittersweet memory finally became manifested as a poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Lilius lives in Arlington, Virginia, where she’s a poet and an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some places her work can be found are Stirring, the Denver Quarterly, and San Pedro River Review. She is also the author of What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications, 2014). Check out her website at