friday feast: “peeps” by barbara crooker

“The house light turns everything golden, and even though we know what’s coming, the next act, we start to believe we can stay here forever in the amber spotlight, that night’s black velvet curtain will never fall.” (“Vaudeville” by Barbara Crooker)

Barbara Crooker’s latest poetry book, Gold (Cascade Books, 2013) has been a godsend these last few months.

goldcoverAs I try to navigate the failing health of my parents and the dread of impending loss, Barbara’s poems have come to the rescue again and again — offering comfort, hope, and affirmation. Gold focuses on the life-altering experience of losing one’s mother; Barbara recounts her mother’s long illness, her death, and the aftermath of coping with grief.

These deeply felt, finely wrought lyric-narrative poems are sad but never maudlin or depressing, personal yet universal, with stirring emotional truths that pierce the heart.

I love how she shines an incandescent light on the fragility and strength of the mother-daughter relationship, inviting us into those tender moments of grace where she is child-turned-caregiver, the child yet asking, “How can she be gone?”

Nana's 90 023crop
Barbara with her mother Isabelle on her 90th birthday, two months before she passed away.

If you’re already a fan of Barbara’s work, you’ll bask once again in her radiant images and the beautiful cadences of every line. Autumn sets the stage for this eloquent elegiac rumination echoing Frost’s, “Nothing gold can stay.”

The collection also includes poems about Ireland, aging and the body, the difficulties and joys of love in long-term marriages, the loss of friends, and several ekphrastic poems on paintings by Gorky, Manet, Matisse, O’Keeffe and others.

Continue reading