These are Jack's commitments: to his body
exercise, stretch, heal if possible and prepare for death.
To his sons: love and respect and teach, learn
to be aware of the effects of his anger or forever be an angry man.
To his wife: in equal portions serenity and uncertainty,
the early years, the middle years, and the final years.
To the community: to treat it as distinct unknowable individuals
much like heavenly spirits but also dangerous animals.
To poetry, religious in its contemplation
of experience under the eye of eternity,
in the realm of the gift and the realm of the sacred:
his individual experiment gone well or wrong.
To his student: not to hurt for gain or inflict more pain
than stimulates growth. Both of them are students
of each other, the periodic table and the civil war.
Other than that, expect to forget and be forgotten.
To his friends who are merely friendly: lonely
inexorably, working hard and playing hard without self-pity
severe about the law and believing in the death penalty
they're the men you'll want in your foxhole warriors at the gate.
To himself by which I mean mind or something hidden, intestate:
a quiet place and time to think deeply or simply
but not too easily to quiet the questions, to know
his bones and the particles of sunlight they stilled and slowed.
Copyright 2013 by Robert Ronnow. Acknowledgements.