WINTER GRACE by Justin Herrmann

One evening in late January, your son invites you to dinner and you find yourself sober enough to accept. His young wife, perfumed with Johnson’s and Johnson’s No Tears, sings into the face of their colicky baby while Son pours you water from Denny’s carafe. Your hands tremble between the smooth vinyl bench and your nylon skirt and when you finally spoon cold chili into your mouth you realize everyone else is long finished. Across the highway, snow falls against fiberglass dinosaurs at the golf course you’d worked at as a teenager, where you brought your children when they were young, front doors long boarded up; but everything outside still looks like you remember, the triceratops well-fed and docile near the fence line. You spread your arms. The wife tightens the swaddle, allows her child into your embrace. His gums search the skin of your arm for a nipple, finds comfort by gnawing on the weathered jut of your wrist bone. Later at home you put on America’s Got Talent and set a glass of Hiram Walker on the end table. You close your eyes and recline, stroke the hair on your arm, stiff from saliva, caress.



Photo used under Public Domain.