Photo that looks like an illustration depicting a Black woman sprinkling flour into a large mixing bowl with both hands. Various kitchen items surround her and the mixing bowl.

Fiction: The Spirit of Love

by Kathya Alexander

sweet Holy Spirit
sweet Heavenly dove
guide me with your goodness
fill me with your love

She sang as she wrapped the flour around the lard, caressing the mixture in her fingers like it was worthy of love. And that is exactly the way that it was that she felt. Your food didn’t taste good if it wasn’t no love in your heart. Her Mama learned her that when she learned how to make biscuits. How you shouldn’t cook nothing if you feeling like your heart wasn’t clean. So she probably shouldn’t even be in the kitchen this morning. But she don’t have that luxury. She got these chir’en to feed. Sometimes her Mama felt so close she could almost see her. Just there, right outside the corner of her eye. She felt her the most when she was cooking in the kitchen. Even tho it had been more than 20 years since her Mama had died.

Using only one hand, a move perfected by practice, she scooped a pinch of baking powder from out of the tin can. She always used Clabber Girl baking powder. She never used measuring utensils, just the feel of her hand. She poured the buttermilk into the dry mixture. She could hear the chir’en in the back room playing around. Trying to be quiet so that she couldn’t hear them. Them not knowing she could tell them apart by the sound of their breathing. Even when they wasn’t saying nothing. It was like the way a mama can tell the difference in her baby’s cry even when her child was in a room full of chir’en. The batter for the biscuits was fluffing up real nice.

there’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place
and I know that its the presence of the Lord
there are sweet expressions on each face
and I know that its the spirit of the Lord

A.D. had woke up and fed the hogs in the pigpen. He took the slop she had left in a bucket on the table. He would mix it with the corn cobs and the grain in the shed. When she thought about him, her stomach always grumbled inside of her belly. Somewhere deep down in her gut. He made her sick to her stomach. And that was just fact. They had been married for near ʼbout 30 years by now. She’d loved him when they married, but they life was not about that. Was not about no love. Sometimes she liked him a little. She liked the way that he ate. That was one thing she loved. The way he moaned and hummed when he ate food that she cooked. But it wasn’t too much more about him that she really cared for after all these years. After all the things she had went thru. All the times he’d betrayed her. All the lies he had told. When they first got married, it was his spirit that moved her. Like she knew that he’d turn out to be a chosen apostle of God.

He sho’ wasn’t holy when they first met in that garden out back of her Daddy’s place Down Home. Out by the well where she had been hauling up buckets of water. He’d walked over to her and asked her for something to drink. And she gave him a dipper. She would give water to the thirsty no matter who they was. She would feed the hungry too. That’s just who she was. And God had always blessed her. Gave her food like manna from heaven. That was a miracle she knew. She’d seen God take two fish and a loaf of white bread and feed all 10 of them in the family. And whoever else who sat at her table. God always gave her plenty. It wasn’t nothing fancy but it was always enuf to feed them. As long as she cooked it with love. That’s what God would always remind her. Not with a scared skimpy heart. Not with disappointment in there. She had to thank the Lord while her sweat dripped into the biscuits. No matter how hot her kitchen was, it wasn’t nothing like hell. And she was not going to hell when she die. She wanted to see her Mama and her Daddy again. And she knew both of them was resting in the arms of Jesus. Knowed that just as sho’ as she knowed her own name.

there are sweet expressions on each face
and I know that its the presence of the Lord

So no matter what A.D. had done to disappoint her, it wasn’t nothing no more than what God seen her do. Oh, not like running around like A.D. had been doing. Her sin was in her heart. That was the worst place for you to sin at. Cause a sin of the heart was something that God could not clean up for you. You have to give Him a clean vessel to work with. Ask His Holy Spirit to come and live inside you. That’s why she had lasted all these years with A.D. Aside from the fact they had all these chir’en to raise. And she sho’ wasn’t gone to do that all by herself and let him run around like he a single man. But it was the Spirit of the Lord that lived deep inside her. It was the steps that she built toward heaven every day. He was her husband. Till death do them part. She had stood before God and offered him her body and soul. And she intended to honor her vow before God. No matter what A.D. did. No matter what trouble that come.

She bend over and take the biscuits from out of the oven. The smell in the kitchen so sweet it make her want to cry. She need to get them crazy chi’ren together. A.D. wiped his feet on the porch before he walked in the house. “Sho’ smell good in here,” he say as he bend down to kiss her. He smell of manure and mud, and she can smell his sweat.

“Go wash yo’ hands. Everythang is ready.” 

And she call the children and sit them in front of they plates.

“Lord, I thank you for the food we about to receive,” A.D. pray as he clasp both of his hands together. “And for the nourishment of our bodies.” And everybody around the table all say Amen.

there’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place
and i know that its the spirit of the Lord

Kathya Alexander is a writer, actor, storyteller, and teaching artist. Her writing has appeared in various publications like ColorsNW Magazine and Arkana Magazine. She has won multiple awards including the Jack Straw Artist Support Program Award. Her collection of short stories, Angel In The Outhouse, is available on Amazon.

📸 Featured Image: Photo by Jeanette Virginia Goh/ Photo editing by Emerald staff.

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