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.