In my hate mail, I spot the words you fucking baboon which fascinates me. What a specific primate to name. I guess monkey wasn’t enough or
maybe they couldn’t tell if I was black brown yellow red enough to earn a more tried and true slur. I confuse them which only makes them angrier.
But that anger is nothing compared to female baboons who roll up in packs of 50 and more. There is nothing more important to them than the matriline
and Ancient Egyptians called them sacred which is fitting for any such society —so singular and unyielding and divine. In the Atlas Mountains, male baboons
battle for the approval of the ladies and they are only invited to stay if they act right. When they don’t the ladies pull up and give a warning—stretching their faces long
to show off rows of serrated teeth. If a quick threat doesn’t work, they knuckle up darting from cliff to cliff to deliver a wallop followed by a vampiric lunge for
the jugular. One young dude gets pinned down against the black shale. He shrieks after, maybe from the bite or maybe just out of shame. Either way, this is a good lesson
and he really should shriek. Because the truth is that he might be the same as them and maybe even kin, but one hungry evening, he might get cannibalized all the same.
Kyrielle with the Crown Jewels
I run my brush through my hair like it is all gold thread like the embroidery dancing on my mom’s shalwar. I covet all things made by hands that are brown. Give back the jewels you stole for your crown.
I wear my gold, sapphires, and pearls to bed just in case your avarice continues to spread. From England, the relics call to me at sundown. Give back the jewels you stole for your crown.
You heard the Koor-i-Noor’s call and traveled so far for the massive diamond sifted from alluvial ground. But with all of your looting, you renewed a curse so give back the jewels you stole for your crown. The diamonds belong to India, not to your dead. Our gods planted them: white, yellow, poppy red. For the sake of your greed, how many Indians bled? Repent. Give back the jewels you stole for your crown.
-- Rita Mookerjee (she/her) is the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Postdoctoral Fellow at DePaul University. Her poetry is featured in Juked, Hobart Pulp, New Orleans Review, the Offing, and the Baltimore Review. She is a co-founder of Honey Literary and a Poetry Editor at Split Lip Magazine.