Jennifer Polson Peterson | Must Resemble Leisure

Must Resemble Leisure. Poems by Jennifer Polson Peterson, selected by Ron Mohring as Number 3 in Volume Ten of our Summer Kitchen Chapbook Series.

Release date:  August 25, 2022 [49 copies]
29 pages
$9.00 S O L D O U T 

Cover: vintage chair upholstery. 

Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Jennifer Polson Peterson holds an MFA in poetry from Albertus Magnus College and is now a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Colorado Review, Image, Pembroke Magazine, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with her spouse and two daughters.

“Jennifer Polson Peterson’s Must Resemble Leisure is wonderful in the truest sense of the word. These poems about motherhood are unsentimental and precise, and I love this poet’s careful eye: “I breathed in / the smoke of you, child—fire / I set to burn my own house down.” Or: “I turned down / wine and every lush, unpasteurized / cheese in France that pregnant / summer.” In every poem, I find myself saying yes to someone else’s experience of the world. This is what we all want when we come to poetry, but the feeling is usually rare. Not here. Pay attention to this book. Jennifer Polson Peterson has done the hard work for all of us.”    

– Charles Rafferty, author of A Cluster of Noisy Planets

“The poems in Must Resemble Leisure are beautiful hymns to motherhood—full of wonder, lyricism, and fortitude. Jennifer Polson Peterson’s poems feel alive and brimming. They pulse with images I won’t soon forget, with lines that blossom and transfix.” 

 -Olivia Clare Friedman, author of Here Lies 

“Jennifer Polson Peterson’s Must Resemble Leisure unpacks the complicated question of what it means to bring a child into a world on fire. These poems do not offer an answer—rather, they dwell in the space between love and loss. Peterson is an expert cartographer charting the complicated nature of the domestic, a place where we observe ‘the blessed punctuation of the bloody days’ and yet somehow daily ‘loop / our troubles into something like lace.'”

– Adam Clay, author of To Make Room for the Sea

Peace Work

Afternoons, when I’ve consigned the child to crib,
the toys to bins, the half-day’s dishes to machine,

in that prized hour before the house all comes
undone again, I write. Sometimes I’m bothered

how unlike my grandmother I am
to waste this quiet, counting lines and stresses.

She probably exhausted every minute
of her children’s naps in housework, baptizing her hands

with scalding dishwater, or starching
sheets and drapes. I’m sure she even pressed

the shirtwaist dress she wore to do the ironing.
I could not dream her seated 

idly as I am now, dreaming of her. When she sat
it was to shell the peas for supper, maybe to crochet

another afghan square or table runner, like this
where I set my notes and tea. She made

a hundred of these, each a single thread
she worried, knotted on itself till it became

a pulsing river, turned a tulip,
snowflake, mandala—the tiny, neatly

tangled universe. And maybe this is where
we meet, in the day’s small leaving. Slip the knot,

make chains of our own choosing, try to loop
our troubles into something like lace.

[ Our thanks to Blue Mountain Review for first publishing this poem. ]

  • Limited edition: only 24 copies are available.
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