2 Poems by Rita Mookerjee

How I Lost My Name

At some point Christian missionaries came to the temples

and interrupted the scholars and questioned the philosophers

and took my family’s land and took our books and took our heavens

and spoke of new scripture and reaped the bounty

of all this taking with one decade after

another they told my ancestors that this

god had always been theirs they built their schools

and spoke of charity they brought

their liquor and their tobacco

and let the soldiers come and rape my grandmother

and drew too much attention and

grew careless so new thieves came and took the gold

and the brass and left a fire that burned the house with all of

the photographs and my mother’s wedding sari.


This is your time, your practice, your message

earth mother power lover you

want another tattoo one for women

remind yourself to look up Sanskrit words and

honor each sunlit space with truth and love

and purity. Tell us all about them

shanti shanti shanti

with your deepest breath out

know that I brand you

smiling thief most wicked colonizer

star mandala unalome chain maker

butcher of language burglar of vedas

harbinger of plagues death caller

given the chance you'd suck bloody henna

from my hands and wipe your mouth on my hair.

Rita Mookerjee's poetry is featured or forthcoming in Lavender Review, Sorority Mansion Review, and Spider Mirror Journal. 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. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University specializing in contemporary Caribbean literature with a focus on queer theory.