It was winter in Prague, and consumption hung in its breath.
Smoke and gnats hung over the smoldering pyre.
The captain of all these men gathered here is death.
Though a black-headed gull changed its migration path,
though gray clouds and clotheslines hung low in the air,
it was winter in Prague, and consumption took one’s breath.
From fire and bones, the town built a wooden goliath
to ward off the spit of the sickly thin and unaware,
but the captain of these gathered men is death.
The chronic cough filled with blood and wrath
was treated with leeches, cupping, and a share
of the Prague winter air consuming the body and breath.
Spoonful of sugar laced with opium gave relief, but the laughter
of the nurse created an error. She, too, was found unfair
by the captain of these sunken cheeked men, death.
All attempts to move south to the spa’s healing baths
were met with delays and tears and force majeure
for it was winter in Prague — consumption hung in each breath.
The captain of every man gathered here is death.
Cat Dixon (she/her) is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and the chapbook, Table for Two (Poet’s Haven, 2019). Recent work published in Sledgehammer Lit and Whale Road Review. She is a poetry editor at The Good Life Review.
Website: catdix.com ; Twitter: @DixonCat