I Woke Up From a Vision

P.S. Dean

that John lay down in bed
with his hospice gown
and high water socks on
whistling “Shall We Gather at the River.”
I heard the sound of croaking
bullfrogs at midnight.
Brother Larry woke me up,
said it was visiting time.
We drove up the hill in the Pontiac
and knocked so hard the hinges broke.
The door opened like the tomb
of an old king that fell
on his own blade.
Cigarettes fumed in an offering plate
turned ashtray.
Larry wiped his forehead
with a handkerchief,
said it was hotter than hellfire.
I plucked a coin from the plate
and put it in John’s palm
to pay the old man’s toll.
His eyes rolled back
toward the ceiling fan.
I thought this is what you did
back in the younger days
when the moon was full
and hot like it was searching
for a prisoner at the ferry
without the fare to cross
the water to the other side.