Deeper Than Pie

grandma’s the one who taught me
that spells were most potent
baked into pie

but now she has started to forget
first her keys, then her spells
memories thinned like her silver hair

doctors run tests
as grandma says she’s not worth any fuss
I’m not fussing—I’m fighting

to preserve the bright spark in her eye
the joy in her laugh and the stories
that flavor our meals better than salt

I whisper Latin in a mantra
as I breathe in nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves
mixing apples and enchantment and hope

I sprinkle in unicorn eyelashes
almond petals kissed by a full moon’s light
a pinch of Pacific Ocean white sand

I sift in my desperation with flour and spice
crumble a topping of butter and dragon’s breath
set it to bake for 45 minutes at 350

ten minutes remain on the timer
when grandma heaves into the chair across the table
tugs the statistics book from my gaze

“You were heavy on the unicorn lashes,”
she says, though I smell nothing but apple
she smiles; I know she knows

we let the pie cool just enough
say nothing beyond the clatter of fork and plate
I taste fruit and so much more

each bite slow and savored
as grandma seeks to remember
and I desperately hope to never forget


Beth Cato

Nebula Award-nominated Beth Cato is the author of A Thousand Recipes for Revenge from 47North (summer 2023) plus two fantasy series from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

One Response to “Deeper Than Pie”

  1. rdusmc86

    Beautiful poem. Reminds me of my mamaw teaching me to cook/bake.

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