The title of Finola Scott’s pamphlet Much Left Unsaid sums up in an almost delicious manner both her style of writing and the subject matter of her poetry. In detailed brushstrokes, never spelling things out fully but always touching on crucial moments, observations, objects, Scott’s pamphlet traces key points in an individual woman’s life.
We read, among other things, of the stories busy neighbourhood washing lines tell (‘Loads’); of pregnancy as pilgrimage: ‘I think of ribbons tied to branches, / scallop shells pinned to cloaks’ (‘Camino’); of mother- and later grandmotherhood – ‘I cup once familiar flesh / hold another’s foot curve, heart’ (‘Matryoshka dolls’)’; and of relationships with partners and with parents, whose places, when they near their life journey’s end, are cluttered with all the marvellous debris of lived experience: ‘His bedroom’s now a Cabinet of Curiosities’ (‘Much left unsaid’).
Again and again, the poems invite us to follow them into landscapes familiar and foreign, present and past, and observe their colours, textures, atmosphere – be that the lands and marshes not far from Glasgow (‘Pilgrimage’), the Lanzarote of 1937 where an artist ‘tastes wind from Africa / waits for Franco to finish’ (‘Planes over Guernica’), or the arctic with its ‘flickerglows’ and ‘timecrushed ice’ (‘Arctic colour chart’). In a particularly moving poem, ‘Cardowan Colliery, North Lanarkshire’, Scott brings the ghosts of former mining works and workers back to life, superimposing the townscape of today onto the landscape as it used to be, reminding us that ‘The earth remembers’.
One of the highlights of the pamphlet (and there are several) is, finally, the very last text ‘All sheets to the wind’, in which the speaker envisions the end of her life, bringing all the elements, body and mind, the explorations undertaken, the streets walked, the flowers loved and the art admired, as well as, of course, the landscape of home together, as the speaker imagines her departure for that one last, great adventure, beginning with: ‘When it’s time, flap me, wrap me / to sleep, in silk, all printed with travels.’
If you don’t know Finola Scott’s work, yet, this pamphlet, out with Red Squirrel Press, is a wonderful place to start.
REVIEW BY MARIE ISABEL MATTHEWS-SCHLINZIG