Sick Bed

Unable to sleep, Joe lies restless on his bed,
staring at a dead man stretched out across
from him on a mattress flat as a slab in a morgue.
Soon a nurse or doctor will barge in to see
who in the ward’s failed to weather the night.
Not Joe, who’s borne worse storms than most.
Fluid in his lungs almost drowned him once,
tugging him back to Texas. But his bleary
eyes cleared. He survived. And now the naked
phantom boy with the face white as linen
sits again at the foot of a dead man’s bed,
his voice like a flute’s, sweetly rueful as he says,
What’s more to fear? Here, he says pointing, or
there, each time smiling brighter than before.

number 22 in the 2River Chapbook Series