Hunting for Chanterelles Alone

When I was young I’d run and hide
squeezing beneath a fallen tree in a thicket
beside my house. Face down
on a bed of decaying leaves I’d lie quietly
so I could hear when it was safe
to return.

Decaying leaves are the scent
of these half-lit woods, heavy rain soaking
through my hat and coat
as I clamber over moss-covered logs
seeking mushrooms
all alone.

I used to forage with family and friends
sharing the hunt and the haul.
Out of work this fall
I force myself to fill the stretch
of time, second by second and step
by step,

scouring the forest for chanterelles—
each orange cap a beacon
leading me up the hill where,
if I still myself, and breathe
quietly enough,
I can hear.

By Rick Swann

Rick Swann is a former children’s librarian and a member of Seattle’s Greenwood Poets. His book of linked poems Our School Garden! was awarded the Growing Good Kids Book Award from the American Horticultural Society. His poems have appeared in Windfall, Blue Collar Review, Perspectives, and Red Eft Review.