Poem – Elizabeth Smither

The Oxford comma


A little knot of writers at a
prize-giving ceremony, standing
uncertainly, looking at the stage

and the side table with scrolls and envelopes
containing magical cheques, we discuss
to show erudition and hide fear

the Oxford comma and the use of it.
“Unnecessary,” someone offers. “An extra
fence where no animal was escaping.”

“But perhaps a breath,” another suggests.
“A large egalitarian family being given pocket money
or sharing beds, a demarcation with bolsters.”

Victory, loss, effusions, and stoicism
someone thinks but doesn’t say
as the crowd files in and takes their seats.


Elizabeth Smither

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