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J A N U A R Y   1 9 9 2

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VIRGULE

by Thomas Lux



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Also by Thomas Lux:
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)

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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.


Copyright © 1992 by Thomas Lux. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Originally published in
The Atlantic Monthly, January 1992.

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