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A Community Love Poem

A Community Love Poem

 

During this month of “love,” I am pleased to share a love poem to the community written by residents who joined the trustees and team of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the City of Fort Myers in celebration at the Grand Opening of Collaboratory this past October.

Collaboratory is a space created by the Foundation designed to bring people together around issues and opportunities in the region that they care about.

The poem was produced by the Foundation, collected and written by our friends of Traveling Stanzas, Wick Poetry Center, Kent State University and sponsored by our partners Entech Inc. This beautiful collaboration of words and stanzas reflects the true beauty of our community. Enjoy!

If you’d like to share this poem, please visit: http://poems.travelingstanzas.com/where-im-from

 

Where I’m From

I’m from painted sunset skies,
toes in sand, fishing pole in hand.

I’m from songs of seagulls and white ibis echoes,

daylight filtering rainbow colors at vista’s edge.

 

I’m from sandhill cranes calling

in the morning, coyotes

running through the streets at dusk.

 

I’m from a place with no dress code,
where sandals are more likely than a neck tie,

from buttery stone crabs, smoked mullet,

and juicy mangoes.

 

I’m from the little chapel by the sea

that married me and the talented surgeons

at Fawcett Memorial Hospital

who saved my husband’s life –

from God’s mercy and grace embraced.
I’m from an emerging group of passionate young families

who all have a story of how they came here,

whose kids play in the street

and run into each other’s homes

as if they were their own.

 

I am from Mom’s mouth-exploding

mac-n-cheese, fishing in salty water with grandpa.

I am from a pink-nosed dog

and a community of artists on Pine Island pond,

full-moon kayaking in Matlacha,
a life with music and new possibilities.

 

I’m from a home displaced,

salt-filled lungs and the bottom rung,

where songs were sung

to escape poverty’s oppressive thumb.

I am from bridge jumping, rock skipping,

music blaring and packed cars thumping.

 

I am from la joya del Caribe,

where ocean, palm trees, and magical stories

are told through the beat of salsa and son.
I am from this place, that place, no place,
from everywhere that speaks que susurra,

whispering of warmth and light.

 

I am from a home for children to grieve

and a street where baseball players roam,

where old men and young ones

hope a tourist will share a buck.

I’m from the longing for better stories.

 

I am from the Freedom Swim in Charlotte Harbor,

peeling, cutting, burning, boiling,

sweating, straining, spending days with friends

making Swamp Cabbage – only to discover

I don’t like the taste.

 

I’m from being encouraged
to think outside the box

in Naples Senior Center, caring

for seniors suffering with dementia.

 

I am from canals and palm trees, yet memories

of Long Island thirty-seven years ago –

oaks, maples, and snow.

 

I am from tasty banyan trees

and cypress sap burning in the night,

from muddy waters and mouth-watering BBQ,

from snow-bird and hurricane seasons,

from “y’all,” and “where’s it going?”
I am from the world wars of the U.S. Army
and lasting friendships of my veteran’s life.

 

I am from Shirley Watson’s fifth-grade class

at Villas Elementary, dusty dirt roads and sandlots

lined with shaky trailers on cement blocks,
from Dad rotating the squeaky antenna

to watch The Monkeys and Star Trek reruns
and Mom finding ten ways to make

spaghetti stretch a living wage.
I am a Gulf Coast buccaneer washed up

on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River,

in Centennial Park, a gator with dreams

to find the sea and star stuff that I am.
Where else would I want to be?

It’s in paradise where you’ll find me.

 

I am from a diverse tapestry,

Boston, New York, Southern charm

and Midwest values, from the here

and there of Southwest, Florida,

going and coming back,

from the land of countless sunset wishes,
where the fabric of our community

continues to weave more collaboratively.

 

I am from resiliency and recovery,

from a time of change and new beginnings,
acceptance and love,
where one small act of kindness

goes a long way.

 

I’m from the sun on my face –

this generous place –

from the longing to listen,

to hope and embrace Collaboratory.

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More