Joan Leotta

DREAMING ACROSS THE STYX

My father walks into my room
wearing his long tan trench coat.
A finely blocked felt hat
tops his jet black wavy hair.
He tamps down the tobacco 
in his pipe, then turns
to me, his brown eyes twinkling,
his lips curling up in a smile around the pipe.

He steps back into
a poorly lit hallway I do not know,
removes his coat and
sits in an orange plastic chair.
Coat on his lap, 
he draws softly on the pipe
and nods at me.
Cherry tobacco smoke wafts toward me.
He’s waiting for me, 
as always.
Through theatre classes
piano lessons
dance lessons
patiently enmeshed in his own thoughts
waiting
without complaint.

Suddenly I wake. 
I am at home. No hallway. No chair.
No cherry tobacco.
No trench coat or hug.
Only the smell of coffee.
My father smiles from his photo.

Some say dreaming across the Styx means
Charon will soon come for you.
I chuckle as I prepare 
to face my day.
No fears.
Instead of Charon,
my own beloved father 
waits patiently to 
ferry me across the Styx
in his white 1960 Thunderbird.
Process Notes: “This poem was actually inspired by a dream about my father who crossed the Styx himself in 1988. I began to think about the old saying that if you dream about someone dead it means you are going to die soon and decided I did not agree with that, nor did I think I needed to fear death, so I wrote this poem.”

Joan Leotta’s artistic goal is always to show the beauty of the ordinary and encourage the audience. She now lives in Calabash, North Carolina with her husband and has published several books (fiction and non-fiction) and many short stories and articles. Her blog on writing and performing is at joanleotta.wordpress.com.

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