Rita Mookerjee’s poem ‘Fetish / Recluse’ (found in the Summer 2018 issue of Flapperhouse) is both charmingly and deliciously self-indulgent, but not excessively so, which makes it a poem that is best read during Leo season. The most interesting kinds of poem-magic always end up being either blatantly in-your-face or pointedly understated, and the not-quite diametrical opposition of Mookerjee’s titular forces falls squarely into the latter category; the images therein cast their airy, self-deprecating spell over the reader with all the cheek of a dark pop song.
Through muscle memory, I learned to grab a bottle
from thin air. Since it only takes 21 days to make a habit
I hammered this magic in like ideology…
If someone asked me to make a list of poems with stellar opening lines, ‘Fetish / Recluse’ would be on it. Hiding “nighttime” in your hair? The image of a young woman passed out with wine in her mouth and all the youthful irreverence that implies, but only when you consider it sideways, out of the corner of your eye? Mookerjee’s turns of phrase in this poem make me think a little bit of the Selena Gomez song it shares half a name with, but in the way where I almost forget that the latter can’t sing at all because I want so strongly to embody the feelings she’s feeding me. Yeah. Exactly like that.