They started him on messages; he'd go
on roller-skates down the long corridor
with windows to the engine. It was more
than he could take in, but he came to know
it first by all its parts – the cogs and gears,
the pistons and the loom that read each card.
It was the computation he found hard
but learned its pounding rhythms down the years.
He'd moved from skates to oil-can, then to run
the simpler programmes, then to write his own,
and then to oversee. He'd sometimes moan
in sleep, as if he felt a throbbing ton
of metal in his brain. He lost his sight
and hearing, as the numbers grew more bright.