Elegy with Threats, Gifts, and Dead Mice | Rita Mookerjee

2 mins read

I come home on Easter Sunday to find a mouse killed 
as if by a surgeon. The puncture wound is a clean crescent. 

I want very badly for this to mean something. I pick up
the mouse and am surprised by the fine coat with its quiet
luster like brown sugar. Briefly I resent my Siamese 

with her cherubic face, the misleading glitter of her eyes. 
You remind me that this is just what cats do, and this 
reminder is necessary because until recent years, I knew 

nothing about them nor did I care to. I did not want them 
hogging my bed, shedding. Barging into poems unprompted
demanding everyone’s focus. It leaves me on edge like after

that Monday fight, I heard the twist of your key and braced myself 
for another round only to find you cradling a loaf of sourdough
telling me     good morning, thought you might be hungry

I wish I could pick only the kind gestures I want but love is not about 
curation so I am left with a tiny mouse in a jar, too recently cursed 
with life to cremate. Briefly, I consider mummification but decide

that it isn’t worth the linen. I contemplated this once before 
when I found a stowaway lizard nearly invisible on the carpet 
but wreathed in a drop of blood. That same moon-shaped cut 

at its throat. None of this means anything, so I have found 
myself once again incapable of knowing a threat from a gift.

Rita Mookerjee is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Worcester State University. In 2020, she was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Kingston, Jamaica. She is the author of False Offering, forthcoming from JackLeg Press (Fall 2023). Her poems can be found in CALYX, Copper Nickel, New Orleans Review, Poet Lore, and Vassar Review. She serves as an editor at Split Lip Magazine, Sundress Publications, and Honey Literary.