[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.