In Memoriam: Francha Barnard

Editor’s Note: Poetry is something readers of the Peninsula Pulse are accustomed to finding in our Literature section. It’s not something they’ll come across in our Community section – at least not 99% of the time.

This week, we’re changing that up. Francha Barnard of Baileys Harbor – a poet, community activist, enthusiastic volunteer and supporter of the arts in Door County – passed away suddenly July 22 (see her obituary in this issue of the Peninsula Pulse). Mike Orlock, Door County poet laureate, wrote a poem in her honor and asked whether we would publish it. Following that, we received two letters to the editor honoring Francha that you’ll find in the Perspectives section, and another poem, also below.

Francha, Filling Every Room

No missing her then
as there will be now:
You can’t erase a personality that large
no matter how petite the person
like you can a white board
with a swipe or two.
That would never do
for Francha, who filled every room
with the power of her presence.

She was the essence
of the “unforgettable character”
who knew who she was
and what was wanted
to move things along
when the rest of us were dawdling,
as we were wont sometimes to do.
She was the art of organization
personified, with a clarity of purpose
impossible not to follow,
sure of what was necessary
to get done today
what was needed tomorrow.

Now that tomorrow is here
without her, this county
she made so bright and busy
with her being seems
that much duller and sedate,
as if the sun has lost a lick of light
and the lake she loved and lived by
has turned to slate.

But mourning her would only anger her.
Better to remember her by remembering
what she’d do: Plan an event,
plant a garden, join a march,
guide a tour, write a poem, arrange a room.
Do something useful.
Just choose.

— Mike Orlock
Our Little Weaver
A tribute to Francha Barnard

“She was a walking weaver,”
someone said.
This spritely Frogtown Lane dweller,
disarming strangers with winsome will
and leprechaun wink and gleam,
adding one more skein of humanity
to her patchwork quilt of personality.
“She was a weaver of people and words,”
someone said.
Extending ripples beyond her
sunrise and moonrise kingdom.
She found me amidst thimbleberries,
pierced me with her needle
of direct invitation.
“Why don’t you join our local lines?”
Without regard for my reputation,
creed or color she welcomed my words,
sprinkled her own,
with a touch of chicory,
another warp for weaving us —
This tiny but mighty, igniting spark,
flickering and flitting,
not long enough,
leaving silken threads
for all who dare
to pick up her
needle and tread.

— Margaret Philbrick