Las Uvas Se Quedan Contigo

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 


Jessenia Hernandez

Jessenia Hernandez has been an avid reader and writer for as long as she can remember. She applied her passions to earning a BA in English and Communication Studies, and her short story “Skin” was published in FAU’s literary magazine, Coastlines. She hopes to one day work in fiction writing and editing while advocating for growing diversity in the literary landscape. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her scream-singing to musical theater songs or experimenting with baking.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.