Poem: Digital

A couple of years ago, I had a run-in with my brain. I like its not having a precise diagnosis, and even better that it only happened once, briefly. (Insurers please note.)

December, 2013

Are my neurons
as digital as the world
in my camera?
Or is my eye an analog
piece of kit
handing on that Sussex
dew light on the grass
as little electro-chemical explosions
amongst – oh I don’t know –
say synapses or cells?

Or has it triggered an electric charge
waiting in line to be coded
in the modern morse of bytes,
more Gates or Jobs than
Nobel or Boyle and waiting
for a browser made by Darwin?

I had an MRI
which scanned my brain for something or other,
perhaps clots or bruises
or signals dimmed or erratic.
I wasn’t told and didn’t ask;
just got the all clear
and a DVD
which I’d like remastered
in glamorous colours.
It’s all I have
from the day I went half-blind
for a few hours –
and a youngish team,
briskly solicitous,
and thinking of clubbing or wedding lists
went looking for a trace.

Well, not blind –
and not by halves –
but sightless in one eye
and going strong in the other.
It seemed to my untrained mind
more migraine than stroke:
an electrical storm blowing through
or the blizzard of a mis-tuned telly.
My vision is occasionally
sort of pixelated,
a Braque rainbow,
scrolling downwards,
an electric kaleidoscope
acid bright,
more petrol spill than sun on rain.
I quite like this light show
these incandescents
that pitch up
but yield to paracetamol,
and seem to work in chemistry and biology
as well as electronics
and probably not in foxy code.

So my vision of myself
settles on flesh
and blood and guts
and tense muscle and pinches of skin,
and some electrics,
all servicing
that bony temple of the virtual
which I wish were brainier.

Still, and all,
I am my own IMAX,
my screen immersive
my woofers thunderous
my dreams epic
my imaginings preposterous.
Awake or dreaming,
I am an inside out world
and sometimes upside down
and thrilled

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Publication date

26 January 2014


RDN's poems