Here Charon is caught again on his journey,
this trip his return, boat heavy, guiding
his passenger between the two worlds
the river straddles. One shore a paradise
of angels, peacocks, fruit trees, its entrance
blocked by rocks, he will row this corpse
toward the other: a hell of washed-up
bones—dark fires burning, smoke rising,
where the three heads of Cerberus growl
their welcome. Charon ferries
his empty-handed passenger, obol
tucked under tongue. How small
they are together. Charon’s boat navigates
the familiar licks and stones of the river;
he anticipates bodies, heart-
sink of death, his travail. With each visit—
dementia and depression settle deeper
in my grandmother’s mind: on the counter
medication she sometimes forgets, sometimes refuses
to take. Experience has taught me to pack
a suitable dress, be flexible with dates.
We sit together on the pool deck. Somewhere
a river rises and falls. She drifts off.
As if to speak, her mouth falls open.