Poetry: Thomas Lux, 'Virgule'


originally published January 1992

Audio: Hear Thomas Lux read this poem (1:37)

Also by Thomas Lux:
The Diamond Cutter (2004)
Lucky (2001)
Henry Clay's Mouth (1999)
The Man Into Whose Yard you Should Not Hit Your Ball (1998)
Torn Shades (1996)
He Has Lived in Many Houses (1996)
Gorgeous Surfaces (1994)
Snake Lake (1984)

From the Archives:
Details, Details
Interview with Thomas Lux by Peter Swanson
(December 2004)

What I love about this little leaning mark
is how it divides
without divisiveness. The left
or bottom side prying that choice up or out,
the right or top side pressing down upon
its choice: either/or,
his/her. Sometimes called a slash (too harsh), a slant
(a little dizzy, but the Dickinson association
nice: "Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--"), solidus (sounding
too much like a Roman legionnaire
of many campaigns),
or a separatrix (reminding one of a sexual
variant). No, I like virgule. I like the word
and I like the function: "Whichever is appropriate
may be chosen to complete the sense."
There is something democratic
about that, grown-up; a long
and slender walking stick set against the house.
Virgule: it feels good in your mouth.
Virgule: its foot on backwards, trochaic, that's OK, American.
Virgule: you could name your son that,
or your daughter Virgula. I'm sorry now
I didn't think to give my daughter such a name
though I doubt that she and/or
her mother would share that thought.



Thomas Lux is the author of numerous collections of poetry including God Particles (2008), The Cradle Place (2004), and The Street of Clocks (2001). He teaches creative writing at Georgia Tech.

Presented by

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it. They are repulsed by it."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Entertainment

Just In