Sharp Canadian autumns
lend themselves to the baking of apple pies.
I sit coring crisp galas
by the tens of dozens,
across the table, wide steel bowls
filled to brimming.
She places her wedding ring
on the windowsill-
my mother, rolling out the pastry,
tucking stray hairs behind her ear
with a floured hand.
To me, then, my mother was gigantic-
five-foot-eight in bare feet she towered over
the butter and eggs, the crack of shells
A queen’s judgement,
Goddess of salt and cinnamon!
Earthbound in a thick white apron
which she tied around herself like armour.
This is where I learned magic:
kitchen apprentice to my mother,
her mother; reciting incantations still
foreign to me at nine years old:
Cups, tablespoons, pats and dashes,
Churned, whipped, folded, beaten.
How dangerous and exciting!
With practiced movements,
my grandmother, practical and shamanistic
showed me the way to pinch the pie crusts-
decorative scalloped edges to crown our efforts,
the amen to an afternoon of prayer.
My grandmother, who had every recipe memorized
and never used standard measurements.
When the pies emerged emerged an hour later
from the 400 degree oven, my mother
would remove the steaming pans,
fillings still bubbling, miasmic and turbulent.
With the heat scorching my too-close inquisition, I would watch this
and think privately in my child’s mind:
How violent it must be to be a woman!