Poetry: Thomas Lux, ‘Virgule’
Hear the author read his poem, originally published in the January 1992 issue of The Atlantic
originally published January 1992
Also by Thomas Lux:
The Diamond Cutter (2004)
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:
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.