They offset, organize, contain,
keeping phrases neat
as well-kept flower beds.
They splice like splicing tape,
sticky on the fingers of film editors
building scenes on Moviolas.
They give us pause,
tell us to slow down:
speed bumps in school zones.
They transform meaning,
from “girl with the boy moaning,”
to “girl with the boy, moaning.”
For some, they sting like wasps
or confine like straightjackets.
But without them, we’d be lost.
Noah Webster once described them
as the guardians of language.
His dreams, however, were comma-free.