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


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