The Comma



On the bottom floor of the modern Bibliothèque nationale de France, stack #368, row K, reference #p33189787272, page 368, the first comma of paragraph three is feeling a little lonely today. No one has glanced at it for 167 years, three months, and twenty one days. The last man to open that page was inside a different building across town, Bibliothèque Saint-Geneviève, with its 30 foot ceilings and colonnade arches extending into the Sun. I’d like to say that this man was a regal magistrate, silky long curls landing on a black velvet coat, but such is not the case. He was a grammar school teacher, wearing a gray coat over his slight hunchback. His family and descendants moved on in time–no record of him survives whatsoever. Only the comma remembers, his beautiful face as of a wild animal washed by rain. 





four photos of poet Paco Márquez each with a different expressionPaco Márquez is a poet based out of Manhattan, author of Portraits in G Minor (Folded Word Press, 2017). His poems can be found in Fence, ApogeeLive Mag! and Huizache. As Spanish Editor for William O’Daly, Paco was fundamental in bringing Pablo Neruda’s initial book, Crepuscualrio, for the first time into English as, Book of Twilight (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). Originally from León, México, Paco has spent most of his life in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. Find out more at:


read next in Turning Points and Revolution: Paco Márquez “The Psychologist at Her Operating Table”