This book – Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake – was part of my Christmas book haul. It’s a fascinating look at the world of fungi, and I thoroughly recommend it.
Fungi are our secret companions. They facilitate growth and communication between trees in forests, they produce chemicals that we have used as drugs (medical and hallucinogenic), they can find the shortest route through mazes AND they make a very tasty risotto.
They have their place in our culture, too. Everyone knows that Hobbits love mushrooms; pixies live in those red-capped white spotted ones, and fairies hold their parties in fairy rings; Mario is powered up by something that looks like a fly agaric and Alice finds a mushroom that can change her height. Powerful stuff.
What about mushrooms in poetry? Here’s a link to “I kicked a mushroom” by Simon Armitage.
https://blackcapsule.org/2020/08/05/i-kicked-a-mushroom/. Special appreciation for Simon’s use of title here, please.
and, of course, we’ve looked at Sylvia Plath’s Mushrooms in previous prompts.
Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.
Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.
Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,
Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We
Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!
We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,
Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.
And here is Toadstools by Charles Wright, published in the New Yorker in May 2010. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/05/10/toadstools
The toadstools are starting to come up,
circular and dry.
Nothing will touch them,
Gophers or chipmunks, wasps or swallows.
They glow in the twilight like rooted will-o’-the-wisps.
Nothing will touch them.
As though little roundabouts from the bunched unburiable,
As though orphans rode herd in the short grass,
as though they had heard the call,
They will always be with us,
transcenders of the world.
Someone will try to stick his beak into their otherworldly styrofoam.
Someone may try to taste a taste of forever.
For some it’s a refuge, for some a shady place to fall down.
Grief is a floating barge-boat,
who knows where it’s going to moor?
So let’s take fungi as our starting point tonight. Where can we go? Maybe you’ll be inspired by the Hobbits’ favourite breakfast. Maybe you want to explore the woods looking for chanterelles or truffles. Maybe you’re worried about dry rot. Maybe you want to think about how fungi use hyphae to communicate. Maybe you got into sour dough baking – or like a glass of beer- and want to think about our good friend yeast. Maybe you have an itch between your toes. Maybe you want to dance with fairies or take us on a wild roadtrip through your imagination. Maybe you want to talk about the miracle that is penicillin. Or maybe you just want to eat pizza ai funghi in a cute little Italian restaurant with a glass of red wine and a loved one. (That last one might be me reacting to lockdown…)
Whatever takes your fancy: let’s have some fun with fungi.
You know what to do:
- Write a poem
- Put a link back to this post in your post
- Add your poem to Mr Linky
- Take a little wander through the dVerse poets’ world of funghi.
- Enjoy yourself!