In the room at the end of a hall which the body is led to by a guide: a platform with a sheet, aimed at the ring-shaped gantry; cool light coming from a whole wall of windows. In the distance, traffic threading through the bridge. The technician in sea-green scrubs has a shaven head and deep-set eyes. He reminds you of the idols carved into wooden granary posts in the highlands: arms on top of bent knees, attentive sentinels. He sets you up for what he refers to as your line. The lead goes in, bevel up. But after the catheter and needle are taped in position for the vein, you ask to use the toilet. He is kind and makes no fuss, tells you to take your time. You empty yourself one more time— another effect of the second bottle of contrast you struggled to finish that morning, the taste just tolerable but the texture thicker than sludge. Back on the platform, you draw your knees up and he slides a bolster underneath. He asks you to raise both arms straight back then loops the tubing twice around your index finger; you hold it in place with your thumb. You are told: you might feel heat flower as a sudden fever, smell and taste the smoky metallic aura of iodinated dye. You might feel like you are about to urinate. The slip rings begin to whir in continuous motion. Your body is a wand passed through the circle; invisible beams rotate rapidly around it to consolidate an image. As the trace liquid enters your veins, you breathe and hold, breathe and hold in sequence. The feeling that floods your lower regions is less like the urge to pee, than the warmth that comes either before or after sex: spreading through your insides before the eddy of withdrawal. Afterwards, he extracts the needle and tapes on a piece of gauze. Departing through the corridor, you feel your head throb slightly. You desperately want to drink water. In the steel elevators leading to the grey parking lot, you are separate again, though still subaltern— unhooked from the eye that had the privilege of looking into the body’s outposts to collect its tokens.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. She 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 What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 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 is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.