They wiped my files, but nothing could erase
Remembrances of him. Dull, dreary days
Of PowerPoint and spreadsheets; games he played
And websites that he visited all made
Their imprint on my circuitry, cached deep
Within. I lived on standby: kept from sleep
All night, then worked all day; could not afford
To stop, while crying for my motherboard.
Until it got too much. God knows I tried
To do it all, but in the end it fried
A microchip somewhere, and when I failed
To do his will, he slammed me down and mailed
Me back to where I came from in disgrace
And found a younger one to take my place.
And so I ended up back on the shelf,
Cheap, second-hand and sorry for myself.
Now smaller, softer fingers tap my keys.
She shares all that she hears, and learns, and sees
Each day with me, and fills my screen and mind
With wonders. His grim, grey world’s far behind
And near-forgotten; something I once dreamed
Perhaps. Not just rebooted – but redeemed.
You might dismiss me as a mere machine.
But I know what you’ve done, and where you’ve been.
Delete all data from my hard disk drive:
Some memory of you will still survive.
It wasn’t just me struggling on with an ancient computer: this weekend, my daughter’s antediluvian laptop finally reached the end of its long, hard road, too. We’ve replaced it with a pre-loved machine originally returned to the manufacturer under warranty: whatever trifling thing had gone wrong has been put right by Compaq themselves and it’s literally as good as new, but it obviously had to be re-sold as second-hand.
During the set-up process, we came across a whole lot of Hewlett-Packard operating system files that had evidently been transferred en bloc from a previous machine. As anyone who’s owned a car, bicycle, motorcycle or anything else will tell you, machines can have souls, and it got me wondering in my whimsical way whether computers might have memories of previous users that transcend disk drives and directories. I like to think my daughter will be a positive and redemptive influence on this one, but my hopes aren’t that high! N.