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Pie Poetry by Bill Graeser

Saying goodbye to the RV, with Bill behind the wheel.
I immediately returned to my pie duties in the kitchen.

In July, I sent The Beast to summer camp for a week. Actually it was RAGBRAI, the week-long bike ride across Iowa. Des Moines Register columnist Kyle Munson had asked if he and his “Team Sauerkraut” could use my RV as their support vehicle. Since it was Kyle whose column launched my Pitchfork Pie Stand, I said, “Of course!” (Then again, I’m still not sure if I should be thanking Kyle for that column in October 2010 or admonishing him for it.)

Kyle hired a driver, Bill Graeser, from nearby Fairfield to shuttle Team Sauerkraut’s gear around for the week. Bill came over to the American Gothic House on a Friday afternoon to pick up my beloved little camper — the one with the worsening delamination, the rotting right wall, the broken ladder, the empty propane tank, the malfunctioning refrigerator…you get the picture. In spite of all the hard knocks the RV has taken and its deteriorating condition (I’ve put about 10,000 miles on it since Marcus died), I am still extremely attached to it. Which is why I cried like a mother sending her kid off for the first time to, well, summer camp.

I cried as I watched my baby driving away.
Who would think loaning an RV would bring on such emotion?!

Bill, however, is a gracious and gentle person. Just the kind of driver you want for your fragile, falling-apart  little one. He babied it, driving it with tender loving care and a light foot on the gas. Phew.

I knew that Bill was a poet and photographer. What I didn’t know as I watched The Beast pull away is that Bill, during the few minutes he spent observing the pie-making mania going on in my tiny kitchen, was struck by the scene — the rolling of the dough, the cracking of the eggs, the peeling of the apples. So much so that he composed a few poems about what he saw.

Bill — poet-turned-RV-driver

And now, for two of Bill’s beautiful poems. Inspired by the Pitchfork Pie Stand and the madness inside the kitchen of the American Gothic House one Friday in late July.

The Bowl on the Baker’s Table
The bowl on the baker’s table—
big as a happy heart,
when flour is sifted in,
when eggs tapped on its brim
crack and weep their golden tear.
When vanilla, sugar, milk—measured
by spoon and cup are mixed in
with whisk and good wishes. Then
when all is poured in a bake pan
the bowl is set in the sink with the
spoon and cup and bake pan too
(when the baking is done) to be washed
like kids in a tub. All this so that somewhere
a friend, a neighbor, a stranger too
can have in their mouths
the sweetness
that comes from a happy heart.

The Aspiration of Apples
Worms are welcome—apples
turn no one away.
Whether tried but once as by Eve
or taken everyday—to keep the doctor away.
Whether eaten raw with a crunch
or cooked to the mush of apple sauce,
enjoyed in the porch swing of apple pie
or fallen from the tree to be eaten
by ants and the wind…
The aspiration of apples is to grow ripe,
then bite by bite to disappear.
Bill (right) doing his job to support Team Sauerkraut.
I got to see him in action as I rode one day of RAGBRAI.
I didn’t go to check up on the RV, I swear. 
For the record, The Beast was returned one week later in tact without any new dings, broken bits or new issues. In fact, I think it had a really good time at camp. Maybe Kyle Munson will want to borrow it again next year. If he does, I’m going to close the pie stand for a week and go with it. And hopefully Bill will drive again and write more poems, pie-inspired and otherwise.

For more about Bill and his poetry, go to:

For Bill’s brilliant photography, go to: