Past & Future Lives with my best friend, who is mushrooms

Laura Clarke


I held your pulsing gills in my right hand,
then I lost you. I wanted nobody to have you,
so I buried you under the dog house,

fed you blue jay bones and coffee grounds.
I sought you out. Described textures
on internet forums, scanned craigslist

for seed catalogue romances. Passed time
by playing old-fashioned 20th century games
like pick-up sticks, hard-to-get, let’s-get-fucked-up.

Chased the double halo on the 7-11 sign
for decades, embraced triple fecundation.
Got real dirty. Spent centuries waiting for you

in laboratory cow dung heaps, watching
Law & Order reruns. Paid good money
to eat the last of your shrivelled brown caps

in a shining Amsterdam storefront,
dry mouth triumphant, only to have you spring
to abundance in a Texas Wal-mart parking lot.

Heard about your miraculous rebirth
from some internet know-it-alls.
Thought about burning the shopping plaza

to the ground but fire makes you stronger,
stem yawning and turning in dirt as forests burn.
Buddy, please demonstrate how nourishment

is the most natural thing in the world.
Show me how patience can be fermented,
teach me solitary confinement and surprises.

I’m the one left standing here in the open
field alone as the hurricane approaches,
clutching bales of hay teeming with spores,

waiting for the eyewall to uplift you,
redistribute you behind a pile of tires
in a meadow in Georgia.