For Seamus Heaney
The entire fungus world is wild and unnatural.
In cottony growths on the forest floor, a few spores alight,
and, if moisture and food are available, swell and grow
into protuberances, with elongating stems and raised
caps, gills, and veils. It is not always possible to identify them--
white, black, or tan; torn, bruised, or crushed--
some with squat fruit-bodies, others lacelike. Even the luxury-loving
Romans appreciated their palatal starlight. Sometimes,
when I'm suffocating from an atmosphere of restraint
within myself, I fry them up in butter, with pepper and salt,
and forget where the hurt came from. Instead, I experience
desire creating desire, and then some milder version
of a love that is temporary and guiltless, as if twigs
and bark were giving my life back its own flavor again.
Poem reprinted by permission of the author. "Black Mushrooms" first appeared in The New York Review of Books.