In Praise of Punctuation
By Sally Thomas
This work was published in the Spring 2013 issue of The Lost Country. You may purchase a copy of this issue from us or, if you prefer, from Amazon.
The comma stops the clock. When dinner’s done,
It gives the men a breath in which to push
Their chairs back, groaning, stand, and one by one
Regress into the den to watch the television.
That sentence might have passed in a clattering rush
Like a late-night freight train bowling through a station,
Empty boxcars banging. Their smutty wash
Unsettles papers on the platform. In the hush,
Time maintains its measures, but with a gap
Where the comma’s finger presses pause, intrudes
So that a road-stained man clutching his odds
And ends in a rag can make one hopeless leap
For an open door as it clamors past—say God
Ordains the leap—land safe, and safely ride.