November 29, 2016


Some parts of the Book of Kells are punctuated,
not by ordinary marks like ampersands, colons,
exclamations, commas, but like this:
a horseman’s foot points like an arrow on a one-way
street, drawing the eye to the text Et tertia die resurget.
Instead of brackets, tiny animals. When a word didn’t fit
on the line, they placed the extra syllable in the space
over the line or tucked carefully under the unfinished
word, guarded by the outstretched wing of a bird
or the front paws of a dog. The scribes called this
“putting the head under the wing” or “taking the turn
down the path.”

I’d like to insert little animals into modem English:
ladybugs instead of periods, question mark earthworms,
starfish asterisks, squirrel-tail commas, and ellipses,
a fine line of industrious ants, ever marching. . . .