Excuse Me?

    I was reading my Dec. 3 issue of the New Yorker with my morning coffee and piece of toast on Friday and came across an ad for Mary Oliver’s latest book, A Thousand Mornings.  The ad for the book, included a poem I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE.  It is a simple little eight line poem and I really liked it, so I thought I’d memorize it.  
     I love memorizing poems.  Perhaps it is my love of theatrics that encourages me to memorize things I can perform.  I love telling stories to an audience and reciting poems.  So this one seemed easy enough to do.
   But in memorizing the poem I discovered the brilliance of Oliver’s craftmanship.  It has three ing words to supply lovely music, good use of assonance, great verbs for action and a rhyme at the end.  The punctuation on the poem was very straight forward and made it easy to interpret, until I got to the last line.  “Excuse me, I have work to do.”
    Written with a coma that “Excuse me,” means to me–get out of my way.
    But everytime I came to it, I would say the line with a question mark, as in “Did I hear you correctly?”  and some how I imagine Oliver sitting at her desk, studying over that line putting in the coma and taking it out.  Putting in a question mark and taking it out.  Since she already had one question in the poem, I think she decided to go with the coma–but for me, I’m still going to read/perform it as a question mark because it is just too much fun for me to say it this way.  
   Because I do not have Mary Oliver’s permission to print her poem here, I hesitate to violate her copyright. But, you can find the poem here<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/A-Thousand-Mornings-Mary-Oliver/dp/1594204772#reader_1594204772″>I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE</a>


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