Remembering Chris Ransick

The passing of Chris Ransick is a blow to all of us. He was passionate, generous of spirit, kind, intelligent, quick to laugh, quick to fight for what’s right, a defender of words and the greater good and how they serve each other. He modeled how to live a good life, how to love, and how to leave well. You can hear him do all three of these in the last reading he gave at Lighthouse Writers Workshop this past September, recorded here.

There is so much to say and scarcely enough words to say it. I am honored to have known him and to have worked with him on his books. I think the best I can do is let Chris have the last word in a poem from his book Language for the Living and the Dead:

The Morning of My Release

On the morning of my release I will
escape as a trout slips from the hands
of a starved man who imagined him
gutted and buttered above a sizzling
pan. I will slide into the cool river and
make for the far bank, swim downstream
with the current, fighting for nothing.

On the morning of my release, twenty
crows will caw from the cottonwoods,
taunting my captors for failing.
They will follow me home, elm
to ash, mistaken for scavengers,
smarter than angels, friends since
childhood, blackwinged defenders.

On the morning of my release, concrete
will crumble from ceiling and lintel,
great cracks yawning in walls and walks,
but only in dreams, but only in dreams.
Behind my back, a vacuum will suck
my replacement in, the void shuddering
and belching a puff of black smoke.

On the morning of my release I’ll walk
north, naked except for a song and
scar tissue, a-thrill with fevered joy.
The fox will acknowledge me at dawn,
both of us hunting to fill a hunger,
both of us roaming and at risk,
both of us finally wild again.