Before the House Stirs

Seven on a Sunday morning – the promise of homemade biscuits looms large, that and sausage milk gravy, spiced with sage, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and ground pepper. I crave biscuits and gravy so much in my third trimester that I wonder if this baby girl will roll from me, a buttery, layered biscuit of her own accord with thigh rolls, chubby cheeks, and a Southern drawl cry-squawk.

In the stillness of the morning, the deaf dog spoons the sleeping husband, the oven preheats and the sausage sizzles, and I feel content – to bring the water to a boil for hibiscus tea with honey, to pad around the ceramic tiles with calloused feet, to wonder what it is I’ll stake the day on. 

My wrists ache as I cut the biscuits, careful not to twist the floured glass jar. Carpal tunnel is a common side effect of pregnancy, and my hands hurt like my sweet arthritic momma's, who insists on hand-washing dishes as it comforts her wrecked artist hands.

I think of my sweet mother now, and I think of all the mornings she woke before us – two daughters sleeping in pink satin nightgowns with embroidered rosettes at the top of the neckline.

As I drink rose-colored tea, now cold, I give thanks to my mama, her mama, all the mamas who came before us, who stoked the fires, who ground the coffee and the maize, who lit the candles and flicked the switches that ignited the rest of us, even when their wicks blazed into the wax. 

St. Louis, Missouri. Michaella A. Thornton's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, New South, The Southeast Review, The New Territory Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, The Common Reader, and a University of Missouri Press anthology, Words Matter: Writing to Make a Difference (2016). She loves her two-year-old daughter, all the cannoli, Hall & Oates, digging in the dirt, dive bars, and Jo Ann Beard.

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