The Game of Boxes
PoemsBook - 2012
*Winner of the 2012 James Laughlin Award*
The second collection by Catherine Barnett, whose "poems are scrupulously restrained and beautifully made" (Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post )
Everyone asks us what we're afraid of
but children aren't supposed to say.
We could put loneliness on the list.
We could put the list on the list, its infinity.
We could put infinity down.
--from "Fields of No One to Ask"
In Catherine Barnett's The Game of Boxes , love stutters its way in and out of both family and erotic bonds. Whittled down to song and fragments of story, these poems teeter at the edge of dread. A gang of unchaperoned children, grappling with blame and forgiveness, speak with tenderness and disdain about "the mothers" and "the fathers," absent figures they seek in "the faces of clouds" and in the cars that pass by. Other poems investigate the force of maternal love and its at-times misguided ferocities. The final poem, a long sequence of nocturnes, eschews almost everything but the ghostly erotic. These are bodies at the edge of experience, watchful and defamiliarized.