Where
      I'm From

for the Southwest Florida
      Community Foundation

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 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 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 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 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 the sun on my face—
          this generous place—

from the longing to listen,
          to hope and embrace collaboratory.

I am from la joya del Caribe,
          where ocean, palm trees, and magical stories
                    are told through the beat of salsa and sun.

I am from this place, that place, no place,
          from everywhere that speaks que susurra,
                    whispering of warmth and light.

          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 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 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 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 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 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’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 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.

          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.

SPONSORED BY
Entech

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.

Learn more →