“The Stutter” by Evelyn Deshane

We read line by line, together so you don’t lose your place.
The voice in your head is strong and clear: it recites your name
as if you could forget with the fracture. T-t-t-tatum. Then me: T-t-ta-a-ra.
“Think of yourself as light,” the doctors said. “As water. Your voice
is vicious and can flow through all lakes and bodies of water. You are
a body of water. Don’t hiss like a s-s-snake.” But the doctors forgot the
flat shape of rocks that skip on surfaces. That’s okay:
mermaids, hiding underwater, all sing in a chorus to lure men
without wax in their ears. The doctors call it the choral affect,
when someone with a stutter can suddenly speak
without breaking up their voice. As if they had never existed before
sound. As if we needed other people in order to become heard.

The mermaids under your skin can rest, I tell you. I am the sharp rock
I will stop the waves and say what you need me to say. We write it all down.
I hold the cue cards. You open your mouth & a waterfall comes out.
You enchant now. People have never heard your vox before; your life
without rocks on the surface. At night, I will take you back to your room
& fold the sheets up over us like a cave. I will run my tongue
alongside of you. Your thighs. I will link up to your mind, and make you
say my name. Imperfect. It’s perfect, I know, I know, I know what you mean
my dear. T-ta-ta-sate me this time. This time, I hear you inside of me
& I know what you’ve always meant to say.


Evelyn Deshane has appeared in Plenitude Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Lackington’s Magazine. Their chapbook, Mythology, was released in 2015 with The Steel Chisel. Evelyn (pron. Eve-a-lyn) received an MA from Trent University and currently studying for PhD at Waterloo University. Visit them at http://evedeshane.wordpress.com