also published as part of The Joy of Poetry
On a cool summer evening in the San Juans
we gather around a chiminea to make s’mores.
Chocolate and graham crackers are no match
for our family’s flaming marshmallows.
The kids shout how best to roast puffed sugar.
We smush sticky fingers into the bag
grab our prey
perfect our technique
poke sticks into the fire over and over again.
“We should sing Kumbaya,” Mom says.
We laugh though
it doesn’t seem like a time for camp songs.
We need sweet summer blues
during this, our last vacation all together.
Mom extends her stick into the flames,
her short, marshmallow hair bleached white
by chemo. The fire of her cancer contained
in a vessel we can still jab with prayers.
We devour each bright moment
as if her bag of marshmallows will never run out.