Before today I thought it was
a comma in a French dictée
a second to catch my breath
and divine/understand the next
word. Had I known it signaled
options/alternatives and a blank/void
could be avoided how much breath/
life could I have saved/salvaged?

Instead I chewed/stewed
a diseased/gnawed leaf edge
sawed/eaten by bugs/worry fearing
failure/death/irrelevance importuning my
poor/weak/unresponsive memory
to give me a break/respite.

I spelled it out – V/I/R/G/U/L/E –
thought it was a word in the dictée.
After I knew/learned the truth/definition
I wished/cried for relief/release from my head.
But today I know it is a comma/slash
and it makes me laugh.