20 Feb 2019 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.