Las Uvas Se Quedan Contigo
Words By Jessenia Hernandez, Art By Hailey Renee
Twelve hands, old and withered, smooth and small, tan and brown,
force the couch against the wall and we all
huddle as close as we can bear.
Our shared blood boils in my grandmother’s living room, a packed crowd
of skin demanding new beginnings.
The ball drops on the boxy TV and we raise one booming voice
Ten, nine, eight.
My family has a New Year’s Eve tradition.
Plastic champagne flutes filled to the brim with twelve wishing grapes
red and green, always so large, full and bursting I wonder
in what strange market Grandma must have found them.
I won’t ask because she won’t understand, nor would the cashier she bought them from.
Still, I long for red and green, devour with my eyes as we chant
Seven, six, five.
Behind the round surface of a grape, I see a cousin’s pregnant belly,
recall an imminent arrival cradled inside, awaited by five young siblings.
In the grape’s pale green, I see a pale woman,
recall her stare from her doorway, her face pulled taut and arms crossed,
as my family walks down the street of our neighborhood.
Too many children, not enough adults.
Breeders! she yells from the soon slamming door.
I don’t know what it means,
don’t like the way that incomprehensible language hisses
in response under the breaths of mother, aunt, grandmother.
The explanation that comes later weighs heavy as they count
Four, three, two.
This New Year champagne fills my glass instead of red and green.
A bubbling sip whirls in my stomach like the uncomfortable stirring
when a struggling Spanish woman at the supermarket
is told by her cashier to Speak English.
This is America, after all.
I think to myself that she should have gone to whatever market my grandmother did.
Her cart held two bags of grapes.
My hand now holds a glass of liquid warmth
that forgets red and green bursts, and though
I try to count a dozen sips, I lose my place and
it all settles in my empty stomach as I reach