In the steamroom at the gym,
I sit on a bench across from Mitchell,
who hawks a glob of mucus
like a wad of gum into his towel.
As the valves begin their hiss,
he murmurs, “catarrh.”
At first I think he’s said, “Qatar,”
and I wonder at the connection.
Mitchell clears his throat, a growl
like some sort of jungle animal.
Guessing what he might have said,
I think of the word “consumption,”
popular in old novels for “tuberculosis.”
I think the word ague; I think the wordcarbuncle.
I think the word morbilli.
About the contributor: Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems – Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by FutureCycle Press.