Poem for Ann Ferguson
-upon her 50th year of teaching-
One score and a sesqui-score of years ago,
after battening books and folders into cartons,
she hitched the bumper up and made the slow
remove from Fenway northward into Arden.
Princemere was defunct: the railman had pitched
his monolithic ruin to the new U.N.—
little knowing that his ponds, his pine and birch
would be much better kept by Ferguson.
But nary an easel, nary a student center
in that lean hour—a barn door for a table;
but many the grace, and many the young apprentice
remarked what Ann could fashion in a stable.
E.g. should Oedipus Rex want staging there,
then she’ll direct it, and not some musical;
and should she count some wars worth waging there,
she’ll opt for beards, and champion The Crucible.
When fire sacked those vaguely equine quarters,
and all her files, and Grady’s, in one white swoop,
she was unbowed: her actors without borders
rekindled as a traveling theatre troupe.
Look how when want or prospect called for action
over the years, she hastened to that place,
so that now the works of our Fine Arts Division
engender from her steadfast willingness.
Kudos to Ann—for teaching oil painting
without a decent studio or gallery,
for summoning students and going gallivanting
through all the museums of France and Italy.
Kudos, I say, for gaggling them into Boston
for plays, then breaking curfew on return;
for standing up to such old-fashioned custom
as frames a room but leaves it unadorned.
Oh, a hundred-hundred tables she has laid
and set each hundred feasts before her guests,
and of all the finals her scholars have assayed,
it was the one at Ann’s they relished best.
Ever the vines that effloresce about her
are chastened into fruit beneath her steel,
and perennial from the riotous soil around her
are cuttings that bloom with her own daffodils.
See how when need or crisis called for tending,
over the years she harkened to that place:
to younger writers anxious for befriending,
or ailing kin—she modeled sacrifice.
Now at this jubilee it is most fitting
we further the remembrance of these things;
we toast you, Ann, your modesty permitting,
and wish you joy—we wish you, Ah! bright wings.