My mother gives me her recipe
by Marge Piercy
Take some flour. Oh, I don’t know,
like two-three cups, and you cut
in the butter. Now some women
they make it with shortening,
but I say butter, even though
that means you had to have fish, see?
You cut up some apples. Not those
stupid sweet ones. Apples for the cake,
they have to have some bite, you know?
A little sour in the sweet, like love.
You slice them into little moons.
No, no! Like half or crescent
moons. You aren’t listening.
You mix sugar and cinnamon and cloves,
some women use allspice, till it’s dark
and you stir in the apples. You coat
every little moon. Did I say you add
milk? Oh, just till it feels right.
Use your hands. Milk in the cake part!
Then you pat it into a pan, I like
round ones, but who cares?
I forgot to say you add baking powder.
Did I forget a little lemon on the apples?
Then you just bake it. Well, till it’s done
of course. Did I remember you place
the apples in rows? You can make
a pattern, like a weave. It’s pretty
that way. I like things pretty.
It’s just a simple cake.
Any fool can make it
except your aunt. I
gave her the recipe
but she never
got it right.