The following poem, by Dirk Vannetelbosch of Brussels, Belgium, was translated from the Flemish language.


As I make my way back home,
Silently observing the nightfall,
I wonder what went wrong, my
Speech, what happened to it all?

The first phrase came out loud and clear.
How glad I felt. It would succeed.
As they all looked up at me
I felt at once great pride indeed.

Once more I had done all my best.
You know how slowly and with pain,
But suddenly the lump came back
Alas! All fluency lost again.

The more I thought about my speech
The more I loathed myself for it.
Once more I had aimed far too high.
My limits I had over-stepped.

I thought then, it just cannot be.
I do not understand at all.
The more I tried to prove myself
The greater was my own downfall.

Forgotten, and without a friend;
My heart was heavy as stone.
A good-for-nothing with no voice
I could not go on all alone.

Night fell, but restless, in my prayers
I asked God to listen to me.
Why had he once more let me down,
While others were allowed to be?

My problem weighed so heavily.
I tried to find a way, someone
To whom I could relate, who knew
How I could longer not go on.

The night was gone, and a new dawn
They say, can often help one see.
In others, who surrounded me
I felt less lonely, less despair in me.

The more I reached out to another
The more I learned his problems, too.
] My own were really not that bad,
I realized there was much to do.

The stutter will not disappear
I know full well, and my decision
Is to welcome space around me
Without denial, or suppression.

Acceptance comes not easily.
No human enjoys pain and suffering.
But we have to overcome
This time which can seem unending.

We can then be ourselves at last,
No more, no less, but just the same.
Then comes the strength, I feel it well
That speech is rather like a game.

When it succeeds, we feel so good,
Then sometimes we may fail again.
Life is full of ups and downs,
Speech may come back now and then.

To stutter is a part of me.
I take it on, and allow it to be.
If this is the cross I have to bear
Lord, it is good enough for me.

When I think about those who stutter,
I know so many. I see quite clearly
That my position is not unique.
I am not alone, perfect no one can be.

As I make my way back home,
Silently observing the night fall,
Stuttering still has a hold on me
But tomorrow I'll cope with it, despite all.

added with permission
September 8, 2001