by Bob Parker '59
I have had a long life. I lived in Canada for six years. I lived in England for six years. I lived in Italy for three years. I spoke French and Italian. I taught in high school for six years. I resigned and did my PhD at Northwestern University in English and English education. I worked at three universities: University of Chicago for two years; Rutgers University for 20 years; and, finally, at the University of La Verne, where I had the strokes.
I held other jobs too. In Reno, NV, I worked at Head Start as Director, at Lake Forest School as Director, and for Arts in Education as a Director for the Nevada Arts Council. In Las Vegas, NV, I worked for Clark County School District as a Coordinator of Research and Evaluation and for Delphi as a Consultant.
I have always loved English. Since I was about seven. Now I am a writer. My website is robertprescottparker.com.
The four poems below are all about Williams College.
Northern Lights 1957
Mountain in Maine. Sprawled out
drinking. Burp, gurgle. Looking north.
Hey guys, I see northern lights.
Radiant explosion of light skyward.
Sky speckled in multicolors. Aqueous
mauve transcending to yellow-white tips.
Sheer white tips shimmering upward
and stretching endlessly ’til it vanished.
WhooWhee! Another pull off Schlitz beer.
Hio Ridge Camp, Maine
WFIL of Chicago. WLS of St. Louis.
WKBW of Pittsburgh. Mountain,
beer chilling. Playing songs live at night.
A Tin Lid
Opposing teams of four, eyes searching,
crouched, hands ready, bare fingers taped,
facing each other, hand curled in, he flexed,
hurled lid low, out, rotated, skimmed,
taped ‘round the edge, where no one,
in a sliding dash, with one hand grasping,
could capture tin lid as it fell in the dirt.
Nicked, battered, with sides worn off,
it was frisbee minus one. Opposite side
said “It’s love-1. Are you ready to go?”
Eyes glaring at opponents, waited
with tin lid in hand, flexing, curling,
opposite team spacing themselves,
slight movement, he hurled the lid,
low, spinning, finding an unprotected space,
and fell to the ground. He held a fist
up above his head and said “YES!
1 to 1.” Boy-men lumbered on,
hair damp, sweaty T-shirts, fingers
bleeding, elbows scuffed, knee pads
damp with dirt, banged tin lid, until
the game ended. We patted ourselves
on the back. We barged in tents, shook
youths awake, to afternoon activities.
I Wonder Mom
2:30am from a college night out.
Entered via basement door. Half
drunk, surprised, Mom ironed
my clothes: T-shirts, undies, socks,
and dress shirts in her night slip
and her net intact. Mom looked up,
with a smile on her face. Turned
back to the ironing board, iron
in hand, and finished a T-shirt.
I kissed her on the cheek and
went upstairs thinking about
something else. Important no doubt.
She’s still in basement ironing.
Always through my memory.
What were you thinking?