Drained to expose the mud that lies
beneath all sensitive membranes,
the pond looks ashamed to occupy
so much acreage for nothing.
On the shore the latest mushrooms
are skulls in memory of skulls
of creatures who’ve died of drought.
Their secrets aren’t available
anymore, although they understand
that draining the pond and drowning
fish in the pitiless air
meant something to someone elsewhere,
in another dimension, distance
the leer of mountains can’t explain.
I bag the edible boletus
for dinner, avoid the death-caps
standing aloof in the deepest shade.
Sometimes in the feverish light
of October I escape myself
and stalk naked but transparent
in falling woods, leaving no tracks
and calming the deer still browsing
the salad of this year’s growth.
Then my slack old skin-bag puddles
on the ground, an empty jump-suit.
If someone came along and found it
they’d mistake it for the rubble
of someone who drowned in the pond.
Today, though, there’s no drowning,
no escape from the body,
only a line of tracks that ventures
a dozen yards into the mud
and returns, tripping little bubbles
of swamp gas. I pack my mushrooms
in my hunter orange knapsack
and turn my back on the pond,
hoping my absence will heal it.