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 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 from canals and palm trees, yet memories
of Long Island thirty-seven years ago—
oaks, maples, and snow.
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 place with no dress code,
where sandals are more likely than a neck tie,
from buttery stone crabs, smoked mullet,
and juicy mangoes.
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 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.
This Community Poem was written by those who joined in celebration on October 24, 2018 for the opening of Collaboratory, a space created by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, in downtown Fort Myers.
This space is a gift to the community. To learn more about Collaboratory please visit www.FloridaCollaboratory.com
Special thanks to poem sponsor and Foundation partner Entech Inc.
Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.