We were outcasts
you with your stutters,
me with my slurring
and that was plenty for a friendship.
When we left class to go to the therapist
we hoped they wouldn't laugh
took turns reminding the teacher:
"Me and Joe have to go to shpeesh clash now,"
or "M-m-me and J-Jim have to go to s-s-speech now."
Mrs. Clark, therapist, was also god, friend, mother.
Once she took us to the zoo on a field trip:
"Aw, ya gonna go look at the monkeys?"
"Maybe they'll teach you how to talk."
We clenched teeth and went
and felt the sun and fed the animals
and we were a family of broken words.
For years we both tried so hard
and I finally learned
where to put my tongue and how to make the sounds
but the first time you left class without me
I felt that punch in the gut
I felt like a deserter
and wanted you
to have my voice.