The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Mycological Association

Introduction to Mycology
By Chelsea Rathburn

Shiitake, velvet foot, hen of the woods, wood
ear, cloud ear, slippery jack, brown wreaths

of Polish borowik dried and hanging
in the stalls of a Krakow market—all these

were years away from the room where I lay
once, studying the contours of your sex

as if it were some subterranean species
I’d never encounter again. Because I hadn’t

yet tasted oyster—not even portobello—
when I thought mushroom, I meant the common white

or button, the ones my mother bought for salads
or served in butter beside my father’s steak.

First taste of love, or toxic look-alike,
there was your stalk and cap, the earth and dark,

our hunger, wonder, and need. Even now,
I can’t identify exactly what

we were, or why, some twenty years later,
learning you lay dying—were in fact

already dead, suspended by machines if not
belief—I thought first of your living flesh,

the size and shape of you. My amanita
phalloides, that room was to exist forever,

as a field guide or mossy path, even
if as we foraged, we did not once look back.


Too appropriate a topic not to post with the photos I took yesterday, "'Introduction to Mycology' addresses a friend and one-time lover who was a victim of a workplace shooting," Rathburn told Poem-a-Day. "I wasn’t prepared for the places the news would send my mind as I was writing, but I decided to follow the poem...I think of it as an elegy not only for my friend, but for innocence too."

My Monday was quite uneventful after a very busy weekend -- laundry, CVS, catching up on correspondence and some writing, a couple of Ho-oh raids before they ended in the afternoon. I watched Begin Again while folding laundry because I was in the mood for music and the cast. After dinner (leftover Nic-o-bolis and Mexican food) we watched this week's Elementary. Mycology at Brookside:









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