Poet Ronald Moran’s latest collection is the climactic chapter of a love story. It is not passages filled with youthful passion or the ease of midlife, it is the denouement of devotion in which he reveals the essence of a relationship that lasted a half century.
The poems are a tribute to Moran’s wife, Jane, who died in 2009 after a decade of illness. Patient, funny, courageous, she is, even in her waning years and ebbing strength, the mooring to which Moran is tethered, venturing off for short sails but always returning to bob gently by her side.
The Jane Poems, though, is more reflection than homage, an eloquent acceptance of the line that couples repeat when marrying but are afraid to face straight on: ’Til death do us part.
Death did separate them, and Moran writes of the years, months, days that lead to that inevitability, capturing milestones disguised as moments. His observations are precise; his conclusions universal.
“If my right hip aches when I first lie down,/I turn to face Jane, who always faces me/since her left side is a corridor of pain,/and as she drifts into sedated sleep/both of her hands twitch, as if a spirit/of unknown origin entered her frail body.”
The poems are poignant but wry, too, as Moran likens a surgical waiting room to a sports bar, compares Jane’s lined-up pill bottles to depth charges, awakens to a thump and wonders if Jane has fallen or their neighbor has “blown up another stump.”
Ultimately The Jane Poems is about the end of life, the time of looking back and realizing that the past is the most important element of the present. “… all I want/is to rerun my life with Jane, beginning in June, where/under an oak in Walnut Hill Park we both asked, Can it work?/Yes, it did.”