STORY: Cochran family brings tree to life with poetry post

The Poetry Post in Cochran on the corner of Fifth and Beech Streets. (c)BLHOLLAND/TMG

COCHRAN, GEORGIA – Joyce Kilmer, in her famous poem, Trees, wrote, in the opening stanza, ‘I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.’ After viewing the ‘Poetry Post’ on the corner of Fifth and Beech Streets, where residents and passers-by can share their favorite poems or other writings by others, or even their own poems and writings of inspiration, I wonder if maybe Kilmer might change the stanza.

“I think that having a poem inside a tree is lovely.” Yes, a poem inside a tree.

The Collins family, owners of the home on the corner – James and Christy and their daughters – have brought to their friends, neighbors and passers-by an opportunity to rest and revive their hearts in the motivation of those words shared. On the day this writer stopped by, the opening page of Moby Dick, was shared.

Christy Collins said, “A tree that lined the street in front of my house had died.” According to her, the tree probably had been dead around two years.

“The city had been notified that it needed to be taken down, but it stayed for more than two years,” Christy stated in a text interview with The Murphy Gazette.

“During this time, I had seen a national news story in Chicago where a living tree was taken down by the city against the wishes of the homeowner,” she wrote. “They asked for part of the tree trunk to be left, so they could make a seat for all people of all ages to stop and read at the ‘giving tree.’ “

Christy continued, “The tree turned into people stopping to read, eat their lunch, rest … etc…”

Take a moment to read what the tree holds.

“That was first inspiration for our tree. Fast forward to present day, we came home from visiting friends to find the tree had been cut down level with the ground. I was really sad because I realized my vision for a ‘giving tree’ didn’t look possible. Then I spotted a large piece of the tree – ‘the body of the tree.'”

Christy said, “I thought it would be perfect for a ‘Poetry Post.’ The idea was inspired by the poetry post that my daughter, Millie, talked about seeing in her neighborhood in Athens.”

Millie “would send me pictures of the poems on the tree on her daily walk. She talked about ‘what a great feeling she always had from reading the poems.'”

“That particular poetry post is a true post with a display box. I wanted my poetry post to be a combination of honoring a tree, poetry and all types of writings,” Christy said. “When I did a little research, I found lots of ideas from neighborhoods in the northern states-not so much in the southern states.”

She paused, then continued. “But that doesn’t mean they’re not around. The concept is related to the lending library. Because the tree trunk has a hollowed opening, I use it to put fresh flowers whenever possible to add some cheer for those that pass by.”

According to Christy, Chris DuBois and his tree service company “cut the tree. I talked with him about what I wanted, and he and the guys that work for him were beyond helpful in getting the piece I wanted moved. He also cut part of the tree for me that I wanted so I can still make a ‘giving tree’ seat.”

People can share their poems and writings – be them by the famous or themselves – by leaving the writing in a ‘drop box’ near the Collins’ front steps. “So far, my neighbor posted a poem to honor, the late Willene Foster. When I posted on Facebook about the ‘Poetry Post,‘ I had lots of responses and people wanting to post poems.” Collins wanted the community to know that they are welcome to post. Most people have contacted her through one on one communication about sharing something.

“I am not sure if people stop by and read it, whether driving by, walking or jogging,” Christy said. “I realize heat keeps people from coming by on foot.”

On Sept. 16, the Post was from Moby Dick. (c)BLHOLLAND/TMG

In the Collins’ front yard, she said, “is a nice Gingko tree in the front yard that gives so much shade and people are welcome to sit and enjoy some good old-fashioned shade time with or without a book.”

She said at some point in time that plans are to have a “‘Poetry on the Porch’ evening when the weather becomes a little more cool, or not. I do have fans.” Be watching social media and other media outlets, including The Murphy Gazette , for information.

“I didn’t exactly have a plan. So far, I have had a couple of people message asking if they could do the poems, and put them in themselves,” Christy said, and added that is when a drop box idea came about – “for people to drop off their submissions, and I will put it in myself.”

Standing in front of the tree, this writer began to read, ‘They call me Ishmael.’ For the five minutes that it took for me to read the excerpt, I almost forgot that I was standing on a street corner with cars and trucks passing behind me and dogs barking down the street. “It was almost peaceful,” I said to Christy.

And thus the point of the Collins’ ‘Poetry Post‘ was filled.

Stop by and check it out yourself.

(c)Story and Photos by B.L. Holland/TMG(2019) #goodnews #TheMurphyGazette