The Drink

  • Nobody asked me during the lengthy
  • questioning around the whole blown-up thing.
  • If they had, would I have been the one
  • who cracked and spilled everything I knew?
  • The truth as I remember it: that first
  • watery, ice-tasting layer of cool before
  • my lips touched the drink itself, and then
  • the way the Coke eased the sweet of it into
  • my mouth, its brazen taste, at first
  • licorice-black then yellow-gold. How it blazed
  • a streak of liquid light all down my throat,
  • both cold and warm at once.
  • It was part of that world I resented,
  • the place that held its treasures ransom
  • until one reached some impossible age.
  • That was why we loved the junior high
  • teacher who opened the door briefly
  • with sips from her rum and Coke
  • at the holiday social.
  • And it was why every interviewed student
  • lied to the principal, the police,
  • and the gray-faced lady
  • sent in from the school board
  • to investigate the case.

Jackleen Holton’s poems have appeared in The Giant Book of Poetry and journals including Bayou, Kestrel, Natural Bridge, North American Review, Rattle, Sanskrit, Talking River, and Serving House Journal. Bellingham Review awarded her the 2014 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. She works as a poet-­teacher with California Poets in the Schools and with Border Voices. “The Drink” originally appeared in her collection Devil Music.

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