A post by poet Barbara Crooker:
When my mother decided she needed Assisted Living, we moved her down here to be closer to us, and I became her caregiver, although she lived in a senior residence (and then a nursing home at the end).
I went over daily, and always brought Peeps.
She’d loved them before, but I live in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, and Peeps are made in Bethlehem, so we have more varieties than you see in other parts of the country.
We have things like Peeps cooking contests (chefs from area restaurants competing for “best dessert made with Peeps”), Peeps Easter Hat decorating contests, Peeps Diorama contests, and–the biggie–on New Year’s Eve, a giant Peeps comes down at midnight!
Peeps, though, are seasonal creatures (why no red, white and blue Peeps for Memorial Day and 4th of July, I ask?), and so when they disappeared after Easter, I mail-ordered a case, so that she’d always have them.
After she passed, I mailed packets of Peeps to family and friends who weren’t able to be with us at the end.
You’ll notice I’d mentioned hospice; initially, our plans were to take Mom’s ashes back to her home church in upstate NY for a memorial. But by the time she died, at ninety, not only were all of her friends gone, but the minister was gone as well. So we held her services in my garden, which she loved, with the hospice chaplain. I can’t say enough good words about hospice. . . .
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.
Giveaway! Barbara’s latest book is Gold, a collection of poems about losing her mother. For a chance to win a copy, simply leave a comment on this post saying that you’d like to be the winner. Comments must be posted by April 15.
Barbara Crooker’s poems have appeared in magazines such as The Green Mountains Review, Poet Lore, The Hollins Critic, The Christian Science Monitor, Nimrod and anthologies such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Her awards include the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, fifteen residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a residency at the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France; and a residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland.
Her books are Radiance, which won the 2005 Word Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance (Word Press 2008), which won the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press 2010), and Gold (Cascade Books, 2013). Her poetry has been read on the BBC, the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company), and by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and she’s read in the Poetry at Noon series at the Library of Congress.
To learn more about Barbara and her work, visit her website at http://www.barbaracrooker.com/
And to learn more about Peeps, visit the Just Born website. There are even career opportunities. Job switch, anyone?