Poetry is always personal, personal to the poet in the subject and expression and personal to the reader in the response and understanding. Unpaused Poems by Alice Scott-Ferguson exemplifies this. The poems explore hurt, hope, sadness and depression, celebration, friends, and theology. And they take readers on a journey of exploration, tugging us out of our comfort zones.
Consider the sadness in the death of one’s father, yet discovering there’s also joy.
The Open Grave
Waves are lapping on the smooth white sands
he so often strolled
on a day in the budding, promising month of May
the first green blush on the fields he ploughed so often
He loved the sounds and smells of the living earth
of the newly turned turf awaiting the seed
A small group of the people he loved
huddle by the open grave on this May morning
We are bereft
The casket, the dirt waiting to receive the remains
to cover him in the dark dirt of his island home
Then the larks—a pair of them soaring and sweeping—
trill over the open grave
We lift our heads to see the song
of a pair of birds, a pair of lovers reunited!
The light of heaven fills our sorrowing souls
My mother and father together again
after thirty long earthly years
Two images in this poem are particularly striking. First is the father’s love of the “living earth,”
newly turned to be planted with seed, and the dirt (also living earth) that will cover his grave. And second is the pair of birds, soaring overhead, an image of two people reuniting after a long separation of 30 years. The earth receives its seed, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, while the heavens express eternal love.
All of the poems are personal. Some bring a smile – like when contrasting one’s perspective of a toothless smile when it’s expressed by a baby and when it’s expressed by a grandfather. Others reflect deep experience and prompt deep thought, like the gift of having a disabled child. Even the section on “Takes on Theology” are intensely personal, reflecting the personal experience of a miracle by Jesus, his final words on the cross, and seeking God in pain.
Scott-Ferguson is the author of Pausing in the Passing Places: Poems, Mothers Can’t Be Everywhere, But God Is, Reconcilable Differences (co-author with Nancy Parker Brummett), and Little Women, Big God. She was educated as a nurse in Scotland, holds a B.S. degree in Health Services, and works primarily in the psychiatric field. She was also the founder of a women’s ministry in the U.K. She now lives in Arizona.
Unpaused Poems is what I might call a “somber delight,” surprising and informing in so many different ways. Scott-Ferguson looks at life with a practiced eye, and she finds the profound in the simple.