Brushing Mushrooms

by Michelle Mairesse

    Streaming Bach around the kitchen, I cleaned

    A mound of meadow mushrooms, recalled how

    Underground runners, twenty-two thousand

    Acres of filaments grew in one park,

    Ancient birthing ground where mushrooms emerge,

    From magic mycelia tunneling through earth

    Like musical ligatures, whose many strands

    Strike a single note, a white button mote.

    Opened, its gills turn pink, purple, brown, rust,

    And fling dusty parasol rings where fairies dance,

    Or tipsy umbrellas for lounging elves,

    Or shamans' mushrooms, conjuring visions,

    Or treacherous toadstools--lethal pretenders,

    Destroyers of livers, famous last meals.

    Quick! I'm back at the sink, sorting the caps

    And mincing the stalks to do them up brown,

    For essence of mushrooms, a mellowed Duxelles.

    Follow my receipt, and you'll find when done

    Mushrooms and music have fused into one.