Ode to Fungi

Concealed by depth and drought,
denied the vital element
bestowing breath to their fruit,
they emerge once again
when elephant clouds fill
rivers that spill
into floodplains.

Bursting a cushion of mud,
a soaked crust of wood,
their stalks, caps and gills
make up for lost time
with fungal exuberance:
Dense clumps of
engorged, foot-length diameter
umbrellas hold microscopic seeds,
millions upon millions of
ill-fated spores withheld
by only a thin veil,
a memory-laden membrane
until abundant moisture consents
to release.

Living underground
as extensive webs of fibers,
mysterious dependents
of enzymatic decay,
they neither digest nor construct
their provisions but cling
and absorb simple harvests
from endless chains of carbon.
Enhanced by the tryst,
roots, bark, and leaves
in turn receive
small gifts of nitrogen.

Draping tropical branches,
their white nets ensnare
inauspicious leaves
and beetles then decompose
their deteriorated prey

Their molecules of rot
satisfy human desires
for cleaning catalysts,
healing agents,
the tang of cheese,
the puff of bread,
bitter beer. But they
also steal lives
from unpracticed eyes.

On a whim, a women
bends over the river bank
to taste supper’s last ingredient
nurtured by the swollen sky.


-Roxanne E. Bogart

Roxanne E. Bogart is a wildlife biologist and writer, whose poems have appeared in The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Silkworm, Pandemic Poetry and Prose, and Poetry Quarterly. She is a member of the Straw Dog Writers Guild, the Academy of American Poets, and the Florence Poets Society, and lives in Hampshire County. Visit roxannebogart.com