Birdsong Co-Founder Tribute – Betty Komarek

[We are in the Poetry Friday Universe collected this week by Brenda. See the bees knees!]

Many of us who grieve for loss of life,
destruction of land & structures from the natural force of
winds & water powered by Category 4 Hurricane Michael, think of the Florida coast.

Hurricane Michael busted on from the Gulf & its sugar sands,
to scream through inland pecan groves & cotton fields – southwest Georgia’s farmlands & river/lake coves, including a tiny Georgia writing retreat I’ve loved, that my critique partner owns,
The Cove.  R.I.P to The Cove. But also …

Before the storm arrived I wrote here about Birdsong, in Georgia.
Today I share my poem set in 1998, & inspired
by Betty Komarek, co-creator of Birdsong,
just over the border of Florida, outside Thomasville, GA
Due to Hurricane Micheal, Birdsong postponed an Oct. 13 music fundraiser,to be rescheduled.

>>>>>>>>

Birdsong Summer

That summer she left the land
for Kay’s mountain cove
she looked long
across Horse Pasture
opened her screened porch door
smiled that eternal smile that says –
Praise and Thanks
Blessed Be

She bent, offered food to Skink,
scuttling back-step friend

She stood with deep-seeing eyes,
finding
far fields, deep woods, green swamp, farm pond

Her gaze remembered
flying squirrel, grazing deer,
zebra longwing,
bob white, towhee, wood thrush,
pileated woodpecker, indigo bunting –
all her feathered friends of tiny beating hearts

She crunched hot feet on dry peanut stone
felt cool moss on split rail
returned inside to the wide hall
stood at stairs in the center
of her universe
looked up through roof to her Sky

She stepped across the straw mat
to her Window
reached deep into her chest
drew out a part of her heart
fixed it on the handle
of the room’s screen door

That summer she left the land
all her planted friends
talked about change –
Nandina, mulberry, saw palmetto, yaupon holly,
liriope, pokeweed, quince, needle palm, loquat,
sweet gum, coontie, tea olive, wax myrtle,
crepe myrtle, yucca, pyracantha, pittosporum –
they rustled, sighed, bent their heads
not knowing if this was forever

That summer she left the land
the champion pecan tree from Shadrack’s time
with the excuse of a purple storm
split itself open
in a final crash into the west yard

That summer she left the land
bears walked into town
padding along South Madison Street
as if they still lived there

That summer she left the land –

A coyote yipped in Ginhouse field

Skink disappeared, reappeared,
disappeared, reappeared

A panicked juvenile cardinal
flew out from accidental entrapment
in the log cabin room
where it had battered itself against the window

That summer she left the land,
in front yard leaf litter,
one leathery brown leaf shape-shifted
into a perfect heart

Following that summer she left the land,
since she had got by without all her heart,
since Birdsong had got by without all of her heart,
she now knew –
both she and her World
would be all right
when the purple storm came again

She still
smiles her eternal smile that says
Praise and Thanks
Blessed Be

(a poem in celebration of Betty Komarek
January 29, 1914 – April 16, 2002)
c. 2002-2018 JGA/Jan Godown Annino
allrightsreserved

10 thoughts on “Birdsong Co-Founder Tribute – Betty Komarek

  1. Your poem reminds me that there is power in knowing the proper names of things. When we know and can identify the birds, the plants, we appreciate them more. It’s as if their colors and habits brighten.

    Like

  2. What a lovely song for a place you’ve loved and the beautiful person who co-founded it, while also serving as a warning about the increasing storms from climate change.. So impressed with all the concrete details and the poetic repetition. You are a talented writer.

    Like

  3. Beautiful rhythm you captured in this passage poem, it reads as if it’s part of a larger story–which it is–a tribute, thanks Jan.

    Like

  4. For many of us who have said our goodbyes to places of our hearts, this is the poem, Jan. The grasses and birds and “skinks” might differ, but the feelings connect. I do love “drew out a part of her heart
    fixed it on the handle/of the room’s screen door”. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jan, this poem is such a song — seeing, touching, hearing all those beautiful things left behind on the land. I especially love the bit of heart on the screen door.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I celebrate life and grieving with you today, Jan. This is a beautiful tribute. Birdsong Nature Center, Georgia sounds like a beautiful respite stop. Love the repetition: “That summer she left the land -” so touching a line.
    May you continue to celebrate life as you recover with joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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