, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

May 28, 2013

Poet’s work offers joy, coping mechanism and way of life

By Miranda Anderson

Times Correspondent

Ruby J. Turner, a local poet born in 1924, is writing about her life in Fort Gibson.

“Anything I think I want to do, I say, well nobody told me I can’t do it, and so I do it,” Turner said.

Her poems range from grief to joy, from adventurous to searching, from ironic to caring.

“I’ve written so long, it’s just like a habit,” Turner said.

Turner began writing as a young girl.

“A long time ago, when I was 14, nobody knew I had a little boyfriend, a musician,” Turner said. “Momma would have skinned me alive. This kid was the only boy that she would let me walk to church with, and he said, let’s go over here and sit on this log and write a poem.”

She told him she didn’t know the first thing about writing poems.

“You write the first two lines and make them a question, and I’ll write the next two and make them the answer,” she said he told her.

This firstborn poem was published and was the beginning of a newfound joy, coping mechanism, and way of life for Turner.

“The night my second husband died, I came home from the hospital, and you know how it is when you come home to an empty house,” Turner said. “So I said, ‘What can I write about?’ I’ve either got to write or cry.

“I got up and walked around the house, looking at all our memories, and then I wrote my poem.”

Turner and her first husband traveled to California where he found work. They were married for 50 years before the marriage dissolved.

“Later I met my second husband, and he was like a dream date,” Turner said. “I met my second husband in a restaurant where I was working as a waitress. He would come in and sit hour after hour, so quiet, not talking to anybody.”

This was back when restaurants had jukeboxes, and you could pick which song you wanted to play from your booth, she said.

“Someone kept coming in and playing love songs over and over. It took us six months to find out who was playing those songs. We would wonder, and everybody got to laughing and trying to help us figure out who was doing it.”

And, their time together was so much fun, she said.

“We learned to square dance. We traveled all over the place. He was so handsome I couldn’t stop looking at him.”

After he passed away, Turner was lonely and would walk through the house and “visit” their pictures. “And I would talk to the pictures about the memories, thinking well, we’ve been there, or yes, we did that,” she said.

Turner said writing is not the only vice she has in life.

“I’ve got one nasty habit, I laugh a lot,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll be in bed writing a poem, and it will just sound so silly that I’ll start laughing.”

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