Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Friday: Apostrophe to the Apostrophe

As an editor, I'm somewhat naturally over-sensitive to grammar and punctuation; in truth, I'm the kind of person who, I admit, is pained when I run out of characters to punctuate my text messages or twitter updates. And yet, I have a love-hate, contentious sort of feeling about the apostrophe. The one in my last name causes endless complications when it's inadvertently left out--or when it's unexpectedly (if correctly) inserted when I think it won't be--forever muddling things like email addresses, and airline tickets, and automated systems that don't want to believe I'm me after all. So while I've always known it to be quite a powerful bit of punctuation, I've never seen it quite so eloquently considered as Eric Nelson has done so here.

Apostrophe to the Apostrophe
by Eric Nelson

Small floater, you stay above the fray,
a wink at nothing's nod, a raised brow
watching p's and q's, a selfless mote
between I and m, a little horn of plenty
spilling plurals, disdaining the bottom line.

Unlike your twin relatives—groupies of wit
and wisdom, hangers on in the smallest talk—
you work alone, dark of a crescent moon.
Laboring in obscurity, you never ask why,
never exclaim, never tell anyone where to go.

Caught up between extremes, you are both
a turning away and a stepping forth,
a loss and an addition. You are the urge
to possess everything, and the sure sign
that something is missing.


  1. Molly,
    I'm so happy to have found your blog. I love this poem. Can you share with us some of your favorite poetry books?

  2. Thanks, Jean! I'm glad you found your way here. "Read more poetry" was one of my New Year's resolutions for 2008, and it made me so happy that I repeated it as one of my resolutions for 2009. I pick up poetry in a lot of places--I poke around in big, thick poetry anthologies and also on for poems I like. Off the top of my head, I've particularly enjoyed a series of seasonal poetry that Beacon Press publishes--"Heart of Autumn" and "Mind of Winter" are the two titles I remember, though there's a Spring and Summer one, too.