For you, Uncle Willard. You've been winking at us from the stars for a little more than a year now.
Dr. Robert (Bob) John Manning (1942-2015) asked me to call him Uncle Willard because I had known his family since I was three or four years old and had taken up residence in the apartment above his wood shop. “Dr. Manning” seemed a bit formal for old friends. Dr. Manning was a professor of Physics, Astronomy, Classical Mathematics, and Humanities at Davidson College in North Carolina. He was also the chair of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies where I created my major in Classical Political Philosophy.
Song for Uncle Willard: Scientist, Philosopher, and Mentor
© Jeni Hankins 2015
If I could live in your study,
and read every book that you owned,
I might find a note in the margins –
a theorem of where you have flown.
‘Cause I’d like conjecture,
I’d like to work you into my proof,
and offer you a hypothesis
on how much I will miss you.
Add a girl who ran down the stairs
wearing two crȇpe paper wings.
Subtract any frowns, if she chanced to fall down,
‘cause we never dwelled on those things.
Add a thimble of stardust to share
to the power of three Yogi Berras.
Divide any doubts ’til the proof shakes on out.
Je pense, donc je suis and etcetera.
I hear you are mingling with stardust,
which proves that Fermat was correct.
Solutions we find are not always kind
when we wish they were magic instead.
Are you up there with tireless angels
moving the spheres all around?
I’ll be right here, sweeping sawdust and tears
’til your famous last theorem is found.