The Retort of the Stuttering Boy

Today I speak in memory
of words which once stuck
in my throat, of teeth
grinding syllables under
my tongue, of powder burns
in the gap between gullet
and darkened lips. Back then
I dreamed of smuggling out
words, packaged like stolen
goods in the mouth's storeroom,
of tearing apart their wrapping
and pulling out alphabet toys.
The teacher would lay her hand
on my shoulder, tell how Moses
stuttered too, nonetheless
he arrived at Mount Sinai.
My Sinai was a girl who sat
at the desk next to mine and I
with no way to say, no burning
bush to set before her, those
ardent words, scorched
by my searing love of her.

by Ronny Somek, translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Goldberg with Moshe Dor

added December 11, 1996