Stone Telling

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Nothing Writes To Disk

by Kythryne Aisling

Nothing writes to disk anymore –
the tumor corrupted the tree,
shredded and scattered the leaves.
So I capture scraps of data as best I can –
photographs, text files,
voice memos, reminders,
grocery lists, lists of lists, emails,
alarms to tell me to look
for the things I've forgotten.

They have an app for everything these days
but there is no synchronicity, no search;
I must leaf through the raw data
with my bare hands,
hoping to stumble across
just the right file
at just the right moment –
before I can no longer remember
what it is I am forgetting.

I keep religiously redundant backups now,
knowing all too well the fragility
of both technology and neurology.
I've already lost too much as it is.

I was eidetic once
but then the circuits shorted
wires crossed, fused
neurons misfired,
cells mutated,
pathways erased –

The checksums in my head
stopped working
a long time ago –
I knew what parity was,
a long time ago, once
but now it's all error codes,
files not found,
please insert a startup disk –

So here I am with the future
in the palm of my hand –
"This is my brain," I say,
half joking, half apologetic,
knowing exactly how it looks –
another mother too caught up
in text messages and social media
to see her own son on the playground –
but spare me your pleas to disconnect,
because if I do, I will lose even more
than the moments you assume I'm missing.

Let me tell you about missing moments,
let me tell you about brain damage and the way
time stops
being linear, stops
being indexed, stops
writing to disk at all.
You try living with these gaps in your timeline,
and tell me how well you do
at staying in the moment.

So here I am on the playground,
holding the future in my hands –
trying to salvage something, anything,
anything of the past, of his childhood.
Write it down,
write it down,
write it down,
write it down
get it safely backed up
before the next hardware failure,
before the next cascade wipes out –
minutes? hours? months?

I never know how much I will lose,
just that data loss is inevitable,
the leaves will fall,
they always fall
the system will crash,
it always crashes
and I will forget, I will forget,
I will forget
that I have even forgotten.

Kythryne Aisling is a full-time artist, part-time poet, and occasional musician. She lives in New Hampshire with her three-year-old son. In her completely non-existent spare time, she lifts weights, spins yarn, and wears too much glitter. She spends most Thursday nights with other poetically inclined misfits at Slam Free Or Die, and tweets about anything that crosses her mind at @wyrdingstudios.

Photography: adapted from Team List, by Dion Gillard.