Poem of the Week: Edison in Love

Robin Ekiss writes poems that draw hungrily and indiscriminately from history, science, art, language, nature – basically, the entire liberal arts curriculum:

The consolation of physics
is art: scoliotic curve
of the earth, cello

that was Adam’s
first knowledge
of women’s pinched waists (“Vanitas Mundi”)

A recurring theme in her work is the troubled experience of women, particularly within the history of science, where we’ve been objects far more often than observers. But each historical vignette also evokes the everyday miscommunications in which all of us are complicit – families, lovers, men, women – and it’s those familiar, inevitable failures that I find most poignant.

Ekiss’ poem “The Man at the End of My Name” appears in the current issue of Ploughshares.

“Edison in Love”
Robin Ekiss

Thomas Edison loved a doll
with a tiny phonograph inside
because he made her speak.

Is there any other reason
to love a woman? Did she say
the ghost of my conception

or something equally demure?
It’s hard to be sure how he feels
when he holds me, I fall apart.

I’m projecting here. He didn’t feel
her first transgression
was in having no expression.

René Descartes, too, traveled alone
with a doll-in-a-box
he called his daughter. Francine,

Francine… is it better to be silent
and wait for everything
we were promised?

Or should we love them back,
the way a train loves its destination,
as if we have the machinery necessary for it?

More by Robin Ekiss: What Makes Men Great, Vanitas Mundi, The Lady Vanishes, Meanwhile, Under the Shade Palms

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