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 cherry wood pipe, then turns
to me, his brown eyes twinkling.
He steps back into
a poorly lit hallway I do not recognize.
Dad removes his coat and
sits in an orange plastic chair.
Coat on his lap,
he draws softly on the pipe and
nods toward me.
Cherry -flavored tobacco smoke
soothes me.
Dad is waiting for me,
as always.
Through theatre classes
piano lessons, dance lessons.
Patiently enmeshed in his own thoughts,
he waits without complaint.

Suddenly I wake.
I’m at home.
No hallway. No chair.
No cherry tobacco.
Only the smell of coffee.
My father smiles from his photo.
Some say dreaming across the Styx means
Ferryman Charon will soon arrive.

Not for me.

Instead of Charon,
my own beloved father
waits, patiently, to
ferry me across the Styx
in his white 1960 Thunderbird.

joan dad


Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She has published or has work forthcoming inRed Wolf , Knox Literary Magazine, A Quiet Courage, Eastern Iowa Review, Silver Birch and in a previous edition of Postcard Poems and Prose. In addition to her work as an award-winning journalist for the Sun News and other papers, short story writer, author of four novels, Joan performs folklore and one-woman shows on historic figures. She lives in Calabash,NC, where she walks the beach with husband Joe and collects shells, pressed pennies and memories. You can check out her facebook page at

“Dreaming across the Styx” was originally published in Red Wolf Journal, Fall 2014