Storying Sheffield

Attack Decay Sustain Release


This poem by Ruth Chalkley is part of the project “A Dialogic Exploration of Gluten Ataxia“.
Ruth writes: “I wrote this to capture an unusual day together which for me would have some interesting outcomes. I wanted to show how we sometimes find friendships and support in unexpected places and in unusual times, and these need to be remembered.”

Attack Decay Sustain Release
For Jayne, September 1st 2014
Neurophysiology: a dark art to patients.
It was in fact a dark science, you told me, chuckling.
It put me at my ease.
We spent a long, mysterious day together;
You wiring me up, me being wired up, a seven hour stint;
First left, then lunch, then right.
Measured; glued;
Pads fitted ready to register the sounds
My brain and muscles made.
You loved your Maths, I hated it.
I was Arts, and you were Science.
In common, though, a love of music;
Me, the world’s worst cellist, you, good on viola.
In the cramped testing room we talked and talked;
Then on into Silent Running when the talking had to stop.
You were kind enough to show me something;
My body’s sounds, as waves and spikes,
Hearing myself now not as talk, but chatter.
Reich or Cage or Glass could score all this,
Could read the screen;
Could hear it in their heads.
Seismic; for me, a premiere.
I learnt about the late night analyses; the overtime;
Wave stacking to see the patterns, to make connections.
I do this too, my music now computer based.
Wave table synthesis.
Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release.
As things went on, I’d drop off biscuits, and sometimes cake.
We’d swap notes. You, too, gluten free.
It wasn’t until that final test, something to do with order,
That we discovered something strange.
You signalled that in what you said; what, I did not comprehend.
One thing stands out for me that day. The time for filming.
You made sure I was dressed ok;
A swift adjustment made it right,
That meant so much just then.
The report is published;
There I learnt that you were gone.
Six months ago to the day.
Fondly remembered, not as in a footnote,
But in some heartfelt final lines.
You will never know I wrote this;
Gone to somewhere I now am learning of,
As they are too; through you.
Thank you for that day together.
Turn up the Gain.
Your mind, your brain.
Attack, Decay, Sustain, Released.
Thank you Jayne.