by Rita Mookerjee
People admire a sense of industry / a spirited sort of communism / how the labyrinth tenants toil away over early blooms / tufted legs weighted with sun dust / convening in their planet in service of the one true queen / everyone admires their golden down / but wasps are paper makers in fitted jackets / ignoring pollen / soaring missiles / audacious enough to crave human food is there anything more insidious / than a Jurassic soldier / choosing prey for food / prey for hosts / turning a corpse into a comfortable nest / furious darts in the fig tree stabbing as many times as they can muster / nectar and venom alive in one body.
They come in and out of vision
tripping on foam and white dust;
I’m getting used to this kind of mirage
in the daytime with my mouth hot and full of beer
squinting at strangers while beach ghosts
keep pace with a salt rinse
chuckling at the undertow.
This makes me wonder how my uncle drowned:
were his ankles over his ears off the side of a boat
pulled like a swath of hair frothy and tangled,
or was he treading water when a cupped hand
became a closed fist and carried him off?
I picture it in the daytime.
I try to make sense of this word;
it sounds like something that only happens at night,
but I felt that weightless tug around my ankles
when I lost my footing in the pool one morning.
I was spotted before anything went wrong
but the dip of my leg as its strength was spent,
sent a dull hum to my fingers,
splayed and pruned. I dared to recreate
this feeling in the bath with a prism
glinting above me but I was safe against the
tub floor. When my eyes get sea-soaked
and my ears are plugged with water,
I can hear the buzz of the
beach ghosts clearly. They tell me that
there’s nothing as haunting as the summertime.
Artist: Marcos Guinoza
Rita Mookerjee’s poetry is featured in Berfrois, Lavender Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, GlitterMOB, and others. Her critical work has been featured in the Routledge Companion of Literature and Food, the Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory, and the Bloomsbury Handbook of Twenty-First Century Feminist Theory.