You ask why mushrooms prefer
gloom with a biblical slump.
You wonder why their expressions
affix in such gaudy sculptures,
why they dance so motionless
on their single pseudopods.
All their plotting is underground—
cilia wired to the dynamo
that rotates the planet and sparks
dreams to penetrate the cramped
lair of the universal brain.
No use measuring yourself
against the cup or cusps of meat
that yield inevitable spores
to autumn’s tawny curlicues.
No point trying to empathize
with such a porous intellect.
My ornate language deployed
on such a humble outcropping
should satisfy your thirst for
a New York brand of intellect
dancing out of the Depression
to crush Paris, London, Rome
under tonnage of abstraction.
But instead of returning to books
you step further into the forest
and ask why some mushrooms sport
bruise-red caps while others
dim with potato-tinge, and some
accessorize with peeling shingles.
And what about coral fungi
and giant edible puffballs
cowering like frightened puppies?
What of the boletus, lacking gills?
What of those toxins brimming
on the tip of the cosmic tongue?
I can’t resolve this nether world
for you, but I can brace myself
against its earthen deployment,
maintaining a thoughtful pose
until the evening deepens enough
to moot your interrogation.