Tricia Asklar

On Secret Weapons

“About Nehi grape soda,” Dad says
because we’re in West Virginia visiting relatives—
coal-stained, soot-stained state of his youth—
“Drink it, you’ll see.” And I do and its concordness
explodes on my tongue the way carbonated soda
fakeness feels authentically seventies even now,
going on thirty-five years since Weirton.
He’d fixed up Baba’s bathroom, total face-lift,
including a new bathtub to replace the glorious clawfoot.
Just finished and we go to the local store, us 
kids and Dad alone in the powder-blue Datsun.
Lick in the cool smoke from under a bottle cap,
mouths curve at the lip and lift the purple
nectar over my teeth and I think 
out loud, “Why don’t we have this in Florida?”
“Popularity?” Dad says, shrugging. Though I just know
Quick Mart, so maybe we can look in other stores.
Red M&Ms disappeared around this time and 
Sally Ride hadn’t yet propelled into orbit.
Tomboys like me weren’t popular, though I still wore
underpants in the backyard, shot b-b guns at 
vultures in the field behind the Tampa house,
walked barefoot on blistering asphalt, read
X-men comics and dreamed of real dragons.
Yawning, I told Mom and Dad stories—
“Zap! And I sprayed all the bad guys with my Nehi.”

 

 

 

Tricia Asklar received her MFA from UMass, Amherst and most recently taught writing at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. She currently lives with her wife and three children near Boston. Her poems have appeared in Boxcar Poetry ReviewThe Bakery, Cold Mountain Review, juked, Neon, Poet Lore, The Portland Review, Redactions, Red Wheelbarrow, Sinister Wisdom, Tupelo Quarterly and Verse Daily, among other publications. Her sestina “A Series of Photos of Legs” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.