Chana Bloch

The Stutter

We speak too fast.  
The child sits at our table, waiting 
his turn. The clock 
points a sharp finger. The daily 
soup steams, 

too hot to eat. Between
words the child thrashes I-I-I—
Our patience					 

takes a deep breath. 

That high voice—all clumsy fingers—
can't untie	 
the shoelace fast enough. The master of the house
is counting. The hurt 
voice circles 
over and over, blunt needle picking at an old  
blocked groove. 

Years ago in a high chair 
he drummed wet fists, his face
a knot: Give me 
words. The fury  
beat in his throat. Mother and father, we put
words in his mouth, we

speak harder, faster, we give him 
a life to chew on.