Mrs Beltinska in the Bath

by Ian Pindar

Pavel in profile

his eye at the spy-hole

watches Mrs Beltinska in the bath.


Steam from the spy-hole

rises and unravels in the dark

cold apartment at his back,


where a TV with the sound down

shows the River Vltava

bursting its banks.


And as Prague’s metro floods

and the Mala Strana floods

and the Waldstein Palace floods


and the National Theatre floods

and the Kampa Modern Art Museum floods,

Mrs Beltinska sinks her treasures in the suds.


The first Czech bible (1488) is drowned

in sewage water, but the warm orange glow

from Mrs Beltinska’s bathroom


coming through the spy-hole

gives an odd kind of halo

to Pavel’s head seen from behind.