A Poem by Luisa A. Igloria

Notes Toward a History of Coaxial Cable

 

dates back to the early 1880s, that heady time

of invention when sound and light and other

 

elements were yoked to service for precise

transmission of our varied signals— So much

that now is easy to take for granted: the trucker

 

with the ham radio, the soldier clipping a walkie-

talkie to his belt, the technician who slicks warm

gel over my belly then slides a wand to render

 

the moon-surfaces of my organs via ultrasound—

The inner conductor is surrounded by a tubular

insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular

 

conducting shield, and both share a geometric

axis: which is to say, the signal looks for the path

that’s clearest or rendered most safe from possible

 

interruption; which is to say, the distance

between the thing and its intended object becomes

more unbearable with each new iteration of time

 

and space. Why do you think the inventor

of the telephone sought a way to funnel the absent

one’s voice into his ear? We speak into our

 

devices, our tapping fingers send the messages

our naked eyes and bodies alone can’t throw

across the ether. Think of how any of such

 

wonders began: as string on a lover’s telephone

spliced from two diaphragms, two cans of beans

emptied and cleaned, their ends punched to guide

 

the string or wire. And other amazements!

—those early days when ice did not even pour

out of spouts on refrigerator doors or trays

 

from the freezer, but travelled whole like scaled-

down glaciers on pallets of straw for months

in the dark holds of ships, across the world— to arrive

 

in a tropical country so the cook could put good butter

and milk and eggs into a cake, and write with sugar

a message on top: To love, To fortune, To the future!

 

 

 

 

Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of the chapbooks Haori (Tea & Tattered Pages Press, 2017), Check & Balance (Moria Press/Locofo Chaps, 2017), and Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015); plus the full length works Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.

Author photo: Lisa Zader

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