Content Warning: Physical Violence or Abuse

At a Brewery in Florence, Colorado, I Try My First Craft Beer

Ask anyone at a local watering hole, and they will tell you
they could easily spot a sociopath, as if the art of spotting is about having
a trusty pair of binoculars. Most of the places I’ve lived or been
are friendly to hunters, and no hunter wants to believe he lacks any skill
required to take down a grouse or buck. At a brewery in Florence,
Colorado, I sip German beer with other women and men—some
in lederhosen—and say nothing about my ex-husband.
It’s my first time sipping beer, a hearty blonde at my side and in
my frosted mug. I talk travel with my new companions and compliment
the bright yellow aspens and the spirit of the place as my blonde
downs four beers to my half. I drink slowly, unsure of its taste in my mouth,
its un-hopped malty wheat smoothness is a question mark for me
as I ask him if he wants to finish the last quarter of my glass.
He does in one gulp. When they ask me what I do, I say I write poetry,
shrugging because it’s not an occupation, without explaining
that it’s my constant occupation; I don’t say trauma or therapy, my mug-less
hands now wishing they had something to hold unto. There’s a need
to be moored after years of assaulted equilibrium. My companions embrace
intoxication as if their lives are a habit of grounding. I don’t explain
that in this state they could never scope a buck because I think this might
offend—especially the men. Even at close intuitive range,
it took me years to discover the man I married was an alcoholic sociopath.
And, anyway, I could never shoot shaking like this.

About the Author

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird, finalist for the American Best Book Awards, and chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place, Parrot Flower, and Still Life. She is an associate poetry editor for Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and assistant professor at Michigan State University.