In her introduction to J. Estanislao Lopez‘ sublime poem “Places with Terrible Wi-Fi” on The Slow-Down, Ada Limón describes the effect of a few days in a cabin in Kentucky without wi-fi:
It was as if there was a switch in my brain that is always on, always making a humming like a refrigerator working too hard, and suddenly I just turned it off. Everything sounded clearer, tasted better, looked more vibrant. Listen, I am not against the internet, but it felt so good to really hide, the kind of hiding that makes you find yourself again.
…But now, there is a little machine in my pocket that is always on. And you can always find me. How can we ever hide if we attach ourselves to these little machines that are hell-bent on finding us?
Limón’s entire introduction is a gem, a poet writing about a poem. “Places with Terrible Wi-fi” makes us realize just how far the reach of wi-fi and the always-on buzz of the world is now. And those parts of our lives it cannot touch. You can listen to Limón read the poem here.
The Garden of Eden. My ancestors’ graves. A watermelon field in Central Texas where my father once slept. Miles of rivers. The waiting room of a hospital in which a doctor, thin-looking in his coat, shared mixed results. A den of worms beneath the frozen grass. Jesus’s tomb. The stretches of highway on the long drive home after burial. The figurative abyss. The literal heavens. The cheap motel room in which I thought about praying despite my disbelief. What I thought was a voice was simply a recording playing from another room. The cluttered attic. Most of the past. The very distant future, where man is just another stratum in the ground. The tell of Megiddo. The flooded house and the scorched one. My favorite cemetery, where I can touch the white noise distorting memory. What is static if not the sound of the universe’s grief? Anywhere static reigns.
Limón captured the poem’s true heart: “What comes is a reminder of what’s sacred.”