Two Poems by Jessica Mookherjee

Mother Tongue
after Laforgue

I dreamed I lived in a palace with billowing sheets,
pages, moon empty, I asked if this was real.

I searched each vacant room with tears and panic,
in the corner the moon sat with her sad face

saying I was talking nonsense. She said be careful
those books can kill.
I kept looking for a place

where a word I’d made up vanished, and the palace
disappeared, just it’s leaves falling into Brandy Cove.

The moon rose, took my hand, whispered that word
again, whistled it through her milk teeth

as we stood on the pier at the Mumbles Head,
we were there all day until night slid into her arms.

She kissed the dusk, put it to bed, sang it Indian lullabys,
and called it my childhood name. As I fell asleep

at her dusty breasts and dreamed I’d woken up again,
on the moon, which was Wales, where I’d always lived.

The End of the World

I spent that last day looking for joy –
all hope used up with alcohol rub,
hand gel and soap. I sat in my car,
on my last trip out, watched a Youtube
of a man feeding thirty raccoons
bits of cheese from his hands,
a sea otter chewing ice. I went that last
day to watch the crows play games
on the side of the road, beak busting,
bright eyed. When the signal went
I left the car. The birds dropped plastic
jewels into my lap and laughed at me.
I took my wide eyes further, to their wings,
the russet gust of leaves – that careered
all about us. We found a clearing
of sky where the road had fallen and there
it was – an expanse, like a child’s smile
all open wide and swallowing.

Jessica Mookherjee is a poet of Bengali origin, who grew up in Wales and now lives in Kent. She is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her two full collections are Flood (Cultured Llama) and Tigress (Nine Arches Press). She is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press. Twitter @jessmkrjy