“She’s normally non-verbal. She saw this virtual butterfly flying across the virtual forest, and she’s able to move her arms and create things, or make things happen. She just lit up. She started communicating, and that’s just priceless” – Dr. Tanya Petrovich of Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria, referring to a patient during a “sensory therapy” virtual reality simulation
Strapping the headset over her skull,
each synapse in her cells becomes activated
as sterile hospital walls transform
into a grid of baby-blue sky,
the floor a breezy blanket of grass
A summer melody whistles
between rivers of sunlight that dance
through oak trees, an ode to those
youthful afternoons playing soccer
with her brother, when time froze like
pollen in wintertime eddies
Suddenly she is thirty again
teaching her daughter how to tango
while rain-soaked grass tickles their bare feet
Her mouth curves into a full moon
as she attempts to hum the chorus
of La cumparsita, her husband’s favorite song.
Later, the machine will be lifted
from her head. Breathing in the air of
the present, she will forget entirely
the scene she marveled at moments before.
Her daughter will visit, and later, fade
from her memory like the elusive pause
between thunder and lightning.
But for now, she sways to the peaceful
rhythm of nature, an injured bird
relearning flight. She has long ago/since forgotten
the feeling of being weightless and carefree,
but this virtual reality simulator -- each
encrypted pixel and coded image – is built
to experience what her body cannot.