[How prolific they were after the spring's rain]

How prolific they were after the spring's rain.
Along creek beds, near tree roots

 

where the leaves were dark and damp, golden-bodied chanterelles trumpeted out,

 

waiting to be taken. I brought my parents to a spot

I'd kept secret in the botanical gardens,

 

the season nearing its end. We went off the trail in search

of wild mushrooms blooming through

 

the forest floor. This was my father's world—a man

who'd made a bow and arrow with bamboo

 

from the back alley and shot ham radio wires

into our trees, found box turtle shells

 

on dirt road shoulders and fit them with slate to scratch

for turkey calls, couldn't sit at a table

 

for ten minutes but would hunch over a tiny fly to cast

into a trout's mouth months and miles away—

 

but my mother's world, not so much. She drifted back

to the path, leaving the two of us to scan

 

the ground until I heard him holler as he squatted

by the base of a red oak ringed in yellow.

I showed him not to pluck but slice mid-stem, how to

discern the true from poisonous imposters.

I took a mushroom and turned it over to the cap's underside lined with the true gills of a false chanterelle.

Funny, I thought, to teach a man named Gil, a fisherman, something new about a word he'd known

 

all his life. But he was listening—really listening—as if

for the first time, I had something important to say.

I dropped the false chant in his hands.

When our bag was full, I held it open—

more peach than gold, they smelled of apricots.

Fleshy wet gems. We brushed and patted,

the three of us, slicing and sautéeing them in butter

with garlic, and ate them, amazed at how velvety they were,

how savory. My mother and father went home

the next morning and I went back to a slow summer,

working dinner shifts at a restaurant

downtown. Weeks later, my father called.

I was smoking a cigarette in the sun. He'd fallen

in love with another woman. I didn't say

what I was thinking—how beautiful, to have your heart

busted open. Truth (or was it pain?) like light—

in the dark of a forest, of our bodies, of night,

it declares its form, almost solid,

exposing and inflaming all in its path—how it travels

in waves, our bodies wired to keep letting it in.