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Frederick Pollack



The Stammerer                                                     (Exodus 4:10-14)


He brought us safely through the swamp

and that uncharted mini-desert full

of quicksand. Among the many

aspects of our life resembling nightmare,

quicksand came closest. He lost no one.

Was especially good

with the kids. Father/mother, comforter,

seemingly unrationed hugs,

stories he had no difficulty telling,

discourager of bullying. By then

a cult of personality would have formed

except that, between crises, he made sure

to sink back into the Council.

There he kept getting

new voices and abilities

elected. Of course it was easier for him


to talk in council. Yes, no; succinct

advice he had time to formulate

during others’ long speeches.

Perhaps more than quicksand we feared

those awful minutes when

a thought defeated him. Then he would grasp

a staff one of his fellow council members

carried; we feared

he would beat himself on the head with it.

Afterwards he reminded us,

flatly and quietly, though weeping,

to think only of helping each other, and not of

the places and blood we had left.


There was also the episode

of the mountain that didn’t appear

on the tentative maps we had brought, its peak

smothered in clouds. He

considered it a moment, led us past.




Devorah Baum

Ferris Jabr

Zephyr Teachout

David Toomey

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