Tuberculosis in Numbers by M. Brett Gaffney
“In the past, we have been unable to get a true picture of the TB situation
in Louisville due to the method of keeping statistics.” – Dr. Oscar O. Miller
Two weeks coughing when the mother’s only son
finds three bloody tissues—thinks of maple leaves.
Ten days at the sanatorium, four ribs taken. One father teaches
his boy how to wait by filling in crossword puzzles—
twelve across, seven letters: to eat or devour.
The boy’s mother dies four months after his thirteenth birthday.
Tuesday morning at nine, it rains. His father smokes one cigarette, two.
Men come and take her body away. Under the sheet, ten toes.
One priest. Four lines of scripture. . . .
Gaffney's complete poem is available here.