“Programming is one of the most splendid things you can do with your life.”
Rupert Goodwins.

You only touched on it;
the odd routine when the proprietary software couldn’t do the job,
your useful box of tricks.
One listed who is logged in at any time;
the unaccountable thrill
of knowing exactly who is connected
in the same moment;
the human element threaded together with wires.

The ungainly paddling around
in the shallows of real code;
true programmers swim.
Once they leave the side it’s one broad stroke after another
keeping it all afloat
evenly breathing the distance travelled –
the challenge is elegance
and efficiency, cutting the numbers without a splash;
redundancy, nil – zero errors.

Occasionally, you’d dive in
when the tide was calm and inviting
come up for air
gasping, revelling in a vast ocean of data.
Some days you desired
order, results, summary charts to measure
progress and worth;
percentage complete, or incomplete, or missing.

And always something was missing,
whether it was names deleted from Christmas lists
or voices replaced
by the whine of fans, cooling circuitry.
Then there was language
you only touched on but never embraced,
the touch that was never returned
as you moved alone through your splendid isolation
compiling lines and flirting with code.

Julia Stothard

If you have any comments on this poem,  
Julia Stothard would be pleased to hear them.