Love Song for Sourness, Stink, and My Acid Tongue

by Rita Mookerjee

In college, my girlfriends learned that drinking
vinegar could cure UTIs. They tried the remedy.

I watched them cringe and suffer, but honestly,
that apple cider sting got me the wettest I’ve

ever been and even now I watch people
wince at raw onion, when—left to my own

devices—I could crunch a red one whole.
What else is a rude ass bitch supposed to eat?

When others smell skunk, I smell luxe onyx
pelts, peaty with white dabs of crème fraiche

and maybe I’m obsessed with dirty, but
not like urea bursting from stone corners

in Union Square. Never the subway or other
people’s trash full of plastic and vinyl. Petrol

is as close as I can get. As a teen, I huffed
acetone which was a lot like early masturbation:

flits of good heat when I got it right. Now, I
can take a lemon or a lime and with my teeth,

tear right into the bulb. At first, it hurt to feed
my acid tongue, the skin in my cheeks grew loose

and white with ulcers. But now it is thick and hard
so I can speak to the poetry of swamps; the densest

smells and the deepest pigments: the divine green
gifts in decay. And maybe this is my superpower, so

that when the water runs putrid or foul powder fills
the air, I can brave a bog and run through acid

rain, unburnt, unpoisoned, simply opening my lips to
what stimulates me most; adapting, so fear my bark
and my bite. I am tannin. I am toxin. I am tart, always.

Rita Mookerjee is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Iowa State University. Her poetry is featured in Juked, Aaduna, New Orleans Review, Sinister Wisdom, and the Baltimore Review. She is the author of the chapbook Becoming the Bronze Idol (Bone & Ink Press, 2019). Rita is both the Sex and Poetry Editor at Honey Literary as well as the Assistant Poetry Editor of Split Lip Magazine, and a poetry staff reader for [PANK].


Photography by: Olav Tvedt