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From the archives

The Trust Spiral

Restoring faith in the media

Dear Prudence

A life of exuberance and eccentricity

Who’s Afraid of Alice Munro?

A long-awaited biography gives the facts, but not the mystery, behind this writer’s genius

Apple Cake Variations on a Palmerston Avenue Theme


I slice six tart Northern Spy apples

into an oiled 8×8 inch bake pan

then sprinkle them with sugar

dark with cinnamon.


Yes, Ma

I wash the apples well

but I don’t peel away

vitamins and fibre

in long unbroken spirals

nor do I iron cotton bed sheets

while watching old television

movies on Sunday afternoons.


I beat

one cup of sugar into

three eggs with

a half cup of oil and

a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

using an old rotary hand beater

just like yours.


Yes, Ma

I preheat

the oven to 350˚F

but these days

we call it 175˚C.


Into this liquid I sift

a cup of flour with

two teaspoons of baking soda

using a tin wheel sifter

with a red knob on the handle

just like yours. Then I mix this

into a fluid batter using

an old wooden spoon

with nicks and stains

just like yours.


Yes, Ma

I run the rolling pin over

the paper bag filled with

a cup of shelled walnuts

just like you did.


I fold these walnut pieces

into the batter and pour

everything over the

crisp tart apples waiting

in the oiled pan now ready

for the oven.


Yes, Ma

after one hour

sublime harmonies

of vanilla and cinnamon

blend to perfection

just like yours.


Mary H. Rykov is a Toronto-based music therapist and academic editor who has written and reviewed for such as The Arts in Psychotherapy, Journal of Palliative Care and the Journal of Health Psychology. Her poems have been published in Carousel, Misunderstandings Magazine and Jones Avenue, and anthologized in Close to Quitting Time: An Anthology Depicting the Various Facets of Work (Ascent Aspirations, 2011) and The Art of Poetic Inquiry (Backalong Books, 2012). She searches for a publisher for her first poetry collection, Dear Mr. Rilke and Other Poems.