Rita Mookerjee :: “Cardboard Cutout Palm Tree”

While you’re horizontal on canvas furniture that 
doesn’t look the way it did in the catalog, slick can in hand 
cold condensation, you’re supposed to say this is the 
life when really you should be asking is this my life

because at what point do muscled cabana boys and 
flower-tending boys and cocktail-serving boys
become one tan, tropical amalgam, interchangeable 
at each location, and everyone wears that goddamn print, 

the hibiscus with its showy pistil jutting out like a penis 
like a magic wand pointing you to the sample area 
where they’re offering piña colada espresso shots 
appealing to your desire to stockpile mini umbrellas 

and antioxidants because these are the things that
you prioritize in Florida. You gulp the shot, and
think that it’s the pick me up you’ve been missing 
but when you brew it at home, the stuff tastes like mud

and baby powder, so you toss the whole cannister 
in the garbage and open the floral encyclopedia 
that hurts your wrists to hold.
you look up hibiscus anatomy, stupid fucking 

flower that it is, and you wonder why people don’t 
favor the pitcher plant or nightshade or gloxinia,
which you read is a greenhouse plant so it isn’t 
in the nursery with its paved trails painted green 

in a bad impression of grass, sprinkled with retired people 
who realized too late that they didn’t have any hobbies.


Rita Mookerjee is an Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Worcester State University. She is the author of False Offering, forthcoming from JackLeg Press (Fall 2023). Her poems can be found in the Baltimore Review, New Orleans Review, the Offing, Poet Lore, and Vassar Review. She serves as an editor at Split Lip Magazine, Sundress Publications, and Honey Literary.