Pulling my first from its place in the forest floor
felt like slipping a key from its partnered, well-oiled lock.
Broken so cleanly at the stem it appeared scalpel-sliced.
You assured me this was a good find, a Boletus from its reddened bruise
and lack of gills. But chanterelles proved easiest to forage;
their penny-bright caps glinted between dead leaves, ripe for the taking.
Spiders were the largest animals we saw that day: orb weavers
bigger than a man’s fist, sharp-legged seamstresses whose webs
like neural networks transgressed each clearing. Without hair
they weren’t so frightening, as if each spider had disrobed herself
to display a less menacing skeleton. Still, we kept our distance.
And suddenly what I had never paid attention to was flourishing:
oysters in bursts around a rotting stump, Amanitas with their white
burial shroud, indigo milk caps as fluted and blue as
a ballerina’s tulle skirt. You told me the wildness
might not be as feral as we think. That the fungi’s filaments
weave a pattern, a conscious fabric, engaging the nearest tree with
its opposite furthest tree to say entwine your roots with my mycelia
and I will tell you my secrets. We followed their invisible cartography
by whatever heads peered up from autumn’s detritus.
And though we were strangers there, unmooring
each mushroom that seemed least dangerous, we could feel
the vast organism underfoot. Silent but for the sounds
of insects, unwitting and soon to be caught.