Storying Sheffield

From Brain to Poem


This poem by Ruth Chalkley is part of the project “A Dialogic Exploration of Gluten Ataxia“.
Header image for BRAIN TO POEM

Ruth writes: “This was the poem that started off the whole project. I somehow wanted to find a way to thank Prof Marios for his groundbreaking work and in giving me not only an initial diagnosis 20 years ago of gluten ataxia, but then, when things went wrong again for me, was able to take me back into the fold and re-explore what had gone wrong. The drafting of this took months: I wanted to see if I could recreate the formal tone of the article as well as say what I wanted to say as patient.”

From Brain to Poem:
Poetic sensitivity as a creative response involving the transformation of ideas:
A creative tribute to a recently created Professor of Neurology

You have my scans, my notes, my files:
You have the bloods, the CSF results, the EMGs;
Gaining the evidence you need with these.
My brain’s image captured now, slice by slice, like grey-dyed geodes,
Like cabochons in monochrome, mounted in mind,
A naked brain, with so much still to tell.
There are no secret places now, ill or well.
You’ve seen the quirks, the jerks, the odd surprise;
Mum’s long goodbyes still in my eyes;
On this long journey you knew, and cared, how in the intervening years I’d fared.
You knew my history.
It felt like serendipity.
My world now is maladroit – smaller, slower, deeper, richer;
This poem’s posturing: its unsteady gait a walking of the mind,
Creative flow in jerky, dyskinesic lines:
An undershoot of rhyme this time. You get the picture.
Ataxic verse, slurred and ripe for stricture.
Your world has widened now.
Published. Eminent.
A world of peer reviews, of breaking news,
Of astrocytes. Glutamate. Perkinje cells.
Cultures are grown. Not just in labs but in changing minds;
Other great brains now being shown
How the new insights into gut and brain will grow.
A focused world of brilliance.
The intellectual dance between your team. The expertise;
This a patient grasps and sees.

That flow when you collaborate – when those creative moments come –
That urging to discover and to communicate,
Has been iconoclastic, perhaps, for some.
For my part, tucked in the notes and files somewhere,
You’ll find a simple bookmark there: It comes with thanks.
As the strands of evidence become robust,
They weave together to form the golden threads of trust.
Thank you Professor Hadjivassiliou.