18 October 2005

Robert Hass

[from Field Guide by Robert Hass]


Amateurs, we gathered mushrooms
near shaggy eucalyptus groves
which smelled of camphor and the fog-soaked earth.
Chanterelles, puffballs, chicken-of-the-woods,
we cooked in wine or butter,
beaten eggs or sour cream,
half expecting to be
killed by a mistake. "Intense perspiration,"
you said late at night,
quoting the terrifying field guide
while we lay tangled in our sheets and heavy limbs,
"is the first symptom of attack."

Friends called our aromatic fungi
"liebestoads" and only ate the ones
that we most certainly survived.
Death shook us more than once
those days and floating back
it felt like life. Earth-wet, slithery,
we drifted toward the names of things.
Spore prints littered our table
like nervous stars. Rotting caps
gave off a musky smell of loam.

10 October 2005

A. R. Ammons

[from Brink Road by A. R. Ammons]


The crows during
warm fall spells
work their way up

whatever direction
the wind will be coming from
the next windy day

so they can bound downslope
cawing long surprises, dipping at
one another, folding their

wings and like splendid
trash skimming the woods:
when it’s gold and red

and windy and they fall out
of the north, the exhilaration

never to have been earned and they
seem to take the fall for
the only kind, the only one.