The Square Where Ariadne Sleeps. Poems by Catherine Bancroft, selected by Nathalie Anderson as Number 1 in our inaugural A.V. Christie Series:
“The Square Where Ariadne Sleeps begins with artistry and mystery: the arrival of ‘a small package … marked Heavy’ that ‘spoke with the body of a woman’; the unexpected presentation of ‘a silver horse-shaped sewing machine’; the tantalizing promise of a chair that’s somehow not yet ready to be owned or sat in. Inexorably as dream, these poems anticipate, they yearn, they gesture towards a landscape of objects at once crucial and unreadable. At the book’s center is Ariadne, abandoned by Theseus though her knowledge saved him from minotaur and labyrinth, now sleeping in the exhausted aftermath of dismay and despair – and is that not an emblem for a woman of a certain age, increasingly aware that her choices have left her in a place she wouldn’t have chosen? These poems challenge that woman: ‘Forget about it. Break the thread.’ They imagine Eros, ripping through the house, tearing up the yard. They postulate that ‘the clock stopped for her / and waited while she slept.’ And, simultaneously, they acknowledge the long love, itchy as poison ivy, that ‘didn’t go away’: ‘So many realities present at once.’ This exquisite and resonant collection grips the attention, complicates its scenarios, teases, satisfies.”
Publication: November 7, 2022 [100 copies]
cover image: Greek Woman by Catherine Bancroft
A teacher of English, History and Writing for most of her career, Catherine Bancroft has written book reviews, essays, and two children’s books. Since retiring as a teacher, she has devoted herself to her longtime love of poetry, and to painting. Her series of paintings based on photographs of early twentieth century immigrants to Ellis Island has been featured in several one-person shows; for more on her Ellis Island paintings see www.catherinebancroft.cullina.com. Catherine has participated in poetry workshops and read at a number of venues in the Philadelphia area. This is her first published collection.
Taking Our Time
I have furnished the space with my own small
bloom. Papers on a bed, clothes on a chair, books on a table.
It took longer than I thought
to gather them. The door opened.
A man and a woman with suitcases.
It’s check-in time for their room.
The brown leaf still on the tree. A spring that hasn’t come.
They stood in the doorway watching me.
I stashed quickly what was left.
I tried in vain to smooth the bedspread. They’d seen
the wrinkles my body made. We used up Eden.
We who were supposed to leave by noon.
There’s no time to lose we can’t go on as we have been, Jane Fonda said.
The host asked her, Can someone be too old for Fire Drill Friday?
I’ll be 82 on December 21st for God’s sake, she said.
A woman in her nineties who was blind and in a wheelchair got arrested with us.
We’ve used up the sample soaps, left hairs in the sink.
The garden needs time to reset itself for the next to come.
Come leave what you’re doing, they call from downstairs.
Whose voice is it calling? Doesn’t matter.
Come leave what you’re doing, it’s time.