Sunday, February 24, 2008

Skip Renker's Birthday February 14, 2008

This was us on Valentine's Day, 2008. Front row, L to R: Michelle, Bev, Wilma and her husband David, Julia, Maureen, James, Susan. Back row, L to R: Jack, Andy, Skip, Laurene. We met on Skip's birthday at the Barnes & Noble Bookseller in Saginaw, Michigan, to read a few of his poems out loud together. We enjoyed singing "Happy Birthdays To You" to Skip but I'm not sure he enjoyed that. I read his poem "Fierce Talisman," and he read a few himself. Because we knew Skip was a teacher at Delta College (a community college primarily serving Midland, Bay City and Saginaw residents), we were not surprised but pleased when he announced that he had a few notes prepared regarding what he'd like to talk about. He brought copies of The Lord's Prayer to share with everyone, and he pointed out some of the rich internal rhymes in that prayer. Skip also made some general remarks about the King James Bible, citing it as an influence on him and on his writing. Then he told us that Richard Wilbur is another influence on him, and he shared with us his close reading of "Love Calls Us to the Things of This World."

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World
by Richard Wilbur

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every bless├Ęd day,
And cries,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,
“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”

accessed 2/24/08
I was glad to meet Skip's friend Laurene who is a nun. I also enjoyed meeting Julia's sister Susan. Skip and Julia are husband and wife; Julia still teaches English at Delta College. Jack and Maureen are cousins. These are intelligent, well-educated, and articulate people. Michelle, for instance, has a master's degree in English. Wilma and David are both retired English teachers, as is Bev. After about an hour and a half, we broke from our "official" purpose and began mingling. Pictures by Anonymous.

"It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued." River Junction Poets Mission Statement

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