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The Second Blush
     

The Second Blush

by Molly Peacock
 

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Acclaimed poet Molly Peacock tracks the vicissitudes of midlife marriage in her saucy, vulnerable, philosophical sixth collection.
Demonstrating once again her "luxuriantly sensual imagination" (Washington Post), Molly Peacock celebrates marriage and a two-track life with the man who became her husband. As teenage sweethearts separated by other obligations, they

Overview

Acclaimed poet Molly Peacock tracks the vicissitudes of midlife marriage in her saucy, vulnerable, philosophical sixth collection.
Demonstrating once again her "luxuriantly sensual imagination" (Washington Post), Molly Peacock celebrates marriage and a two-track life with the man who became her husband. As teenage sweethearts separated by other obligations, they found each other again at midlife. The piquant, sonnet-based poems take as their starting point her husband's survival from a life-threatening disease, addressing the contradictory ideas of planning for the future along with the urgency to make the present brilliantly alive. Three sections of the book portray moments in the marriage—domestic glimpses—but all the poems revolve around the deeper issue of how we love and how love affects the way we live.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Since the 1980s, Peacock has used her gifts for meter and rhyme to portray, and to praise, her own experience, framing brief encounters, regrets and sexual joys with energy and clarity that suggest poets from Edna St. Vincent Millay to Marilyn Hacker. This sixth collection touches on what she has shared with her husband-their first encounters as teenagers, their years apart before they fell in love as adults, his near-fatal illness and their happy life in Toronto now: "you drop a clue,/ and the land reshapes;/ I pick it up,/ and we pull through,/ so far." This entertaining if occasionally glib volume may seem to some readers a model of how to put one's own life into verse. Yet readers who seek unity in Peacock's sixth collection might look not to its people but to its cats-the feline members in Peacock's household are the subjects of the book's strong sonnets. When one cat dies, the poet considers mortality, family and pathos more generally; when another thrives, "The sound of well-being starting/ and continuing, the full flesh clock, true/ to its pledge-now-were, now-ere-is our purr." (June)

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Library Journal

Written in the afterglow of a second marriage at midlife and a love regained, the poems in Peacock's latest collection (after Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems in 2002) are occasions for remembrance and reassessment as the poet's consciousness moves into new emotional territory ("the land reshapes"). But mature love is not infatuation, and Peacock draws on her well-established skill at constructing concise, gracefully composed lyric poems to present a grounded perspective on the muted joys and known risks of marital domesticity. "Good Fortune" ends with "and the day will begin with something to lose," succinctly conflating the optimist's sense of promise with the pessimist's fear of failure in nine simple words. Peacock's compact philosophical meditations may be triggered by homely tasks such as dish washing, cooking, and gardening, but they transcend their mundane origins with assured eloquence and an almost startling subtlety. "Sometimes form itself makes us content," she writes in a gently punning but discerning line, and these poems are the proof. Recommended for most collections.
—Fred Muratori

From the Publisher
Praise for Molly Peacock:
“She has a luxuriantly sensual imagination — and an equally sensual feel for the language. In mood her poems range from high-spirited whimsy to bemused reflection. Whatever the subject, rich music follows the tap of Molly Peacock’s baton.” — Washington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393066517
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2008
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Of Night
A city mouse darts from the paws of night.
A body drops from the jaws of night.
A woman denies the laws of night,
awake and trapped in the was of night.
A young man turns in the gauze of night,
unraveling the cause of night:
that days extend their claws at night to re-enact old wars at night,
though dreams can heal old sores at night and Spring begins its thaw at night,
while worry bones are gnawed at night.
He sips her through a straw at night.
Verbs whisper in the clause of night.
A finger to her lips the pause of night.

Marriage
I watch my husband at a party,
a shy boy become a man at ease at last.
Success freshens his face, the boy now free to pass beneath his expressions as if slipping under a fence.
I used to slip under a fence to swim in a stream-fed pond and laze in the water till shocked and delighted by a cold spot I swam through.
That's what his face is like,
infused by a source inside him.
I know I have a part in it,
just as I was part of the pond where I loved to swim.

The Flaw
The best thing about a hand-made pattern is the flaw.
Sooner or later in a hand-loomed rug,
among the squares and flattened triangles,
a little red nub might soar above a blue field,
or a purple cross might sneak in between the neat ochre teeth of the border.
The flaw we live by, the wrong color floss,
now wreathes among the uniform strands and, because it does not match,
makes a red bird fly,
turning blue field into sky.
It is almost, after long silence, a word spoken aloud, a hand saying through the flaw,
I’m alive, discovered by your eye.

Meet the Author

As president of the Poetry Society of America, Molly Peacock was one of the creators of New York’s Poetry in Motion program, and she is the series editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English. She is based in New York and Toronto.

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