Saturday, 18 June 2022

'Forager' by A. E. Weisgerber

Imagine seeing a puffball mushroom in a field and knowing its name is Calvatia gigantea. Such a one appeared Wednesday.

Imagine you are a suburban housewife who knows only this mushroom, a safe one, and how to peel and slice pure firm ovals of white.

Imagine you are the middle-aged husband who sees her tender this skull of curiosity toward home and know it is being tendered to you, when suddenly you're stood in your boyhood kitchen —Nana's house in the swamp—the first place you'd tasted wild asparagus, hen-of-the-woods sautéed in butter.

Imagine that next year, and many thereafter, you are Calvatia gigantea and you remain ready to growl, a little mechanism inside you clicking toward a burst of air, like Tipu Sultan's Tiger. Your insides proceed as a chalet clock's do, toward cu- and then -ckoo, and imagine how, before your own bellows fills, a pretty housewife spies you and kneels beside you to inspect your loamy cord, then holds you and washes you and lays you bare.

Imagine you are the fork, warmed by a sweet girl's mouth, warmed by a boy's light lips, ferrying mycorrhizae’s temporal gift, then: being washed carefully and dried and laid in quiet calm until who knows when.

Imagine you are an underground network of mycorrhizae, reaping all your energy to carry on, to be one with the world, from a sun you'll never see, and you exchange news politely with your generous friends, the trees, and with other lives unseen themselves and who'll never see, and your dream of the future is a fling.

First published in Berfrois, 20 January 2022.

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