June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review
by Michaella Thornton
Botticelli’s Venus, except she stands naked in a field of corn or soybeans or a grove of pecan trees with a sky so open and blue it makes you wonder why any of us live these walled-off lives. My mother in her heyday, 1970s feathered-hair splendor, a stoner debutante of the lower Midwest who water skis the morning before her wedding at age 18. At the altar, she is sun-kissed and magnificent. Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain and agriculture, who I squint at in her faded bronze glory, all 1,400 pounds of her, on top of the dome of the Missouri State Capitol while the rest of my bored fifth-grade peers wonder when we’re gonna leave Jeff City and head back home to Blue Springs. My grandmother Anna Lee hand-scoring a wheat stalk on her signature blackberry cobbler with quick flicks of the wrist. Try as I might, I cannot quite reproduce her artistic slices. My friend Reine who owns and operates a vegan bakery in the heart of the Shaw neighborhood in St. Louis. She is Tennessee-born beauty and determination personified: waking up each morning before 5 a.m., stoking the ovens while the rest of us sleep. Real-life goddess of the hearth and fire. Sisters running into flowered sheets swaying in the breeze or deep into the woods, carefully under barbed-wire fences, abandoning rules and domesticity and adult supervision. Serenading my granddad on his death bed, singing in harmony with my sisters, holding his warm, warm hand. Spooning three kinds of ice cream into his open mouth, and wishing we could give him so much more than frozen milk and sugar. Nursing my newborn daughter in the dark, unsure if I am doing any of this right, hoping she finally latches, and drinks and drinks until she’s full.
Michaella Thornton is a lower Midwesterner who loves cannoli, stargazing, and walks in the woods. In 2021, her writing was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction. She lives in a sunny brick bungalow just outside of St. Louis, Missouri with her amazing daughter, tortoiseshell cat, and a bunch of happy jade plants. Twitter: @kellathornton