In those last few months my mother didn’t want to eat,
this woman who made everything from scratch,
and who said of her appetite,I eat
like a bricklayer.
Now she listlessly
stirred the food around her plate, sometimes
picking up a piece of chicken,then looking at it
as if to say, What is this? Wouldn’t put
it in her mouth. But Peeps! Marshmallow Peeps!
Spun sugar and air, molded in clever forms: a row
of ghosts, a line of pumpkins, a bevy of bunnies,
a flock of tiny chicks,sometimes in improbable colors
like purple and blue. . . .One day, she turned over
her tray, closed her mouth, looked up at me
like a defiant child, and said, I’m not eating
this stuff. Where’s my Peeps?

When it was over, the hospice chaplain said some words
in my back yard, under the wisteria arch. The air
was full of twinkling white butterflies, in love
with the wild oregano. Blue-green fronds of Russian sage
waved in front of the Star Gazer lilies, and a single finch
lit on a pink coneflower, and stayed. When there were
no more words or tears, I ripped open the last packet
of Peeps, tore their little marshmallow bodies,
their sugary blood on my hands, and gave a piece
to each of us. It melted, grainy fluff on our tongues,
and it was good.
Barbara Crooker


poems online



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