The Mushroom Collectors
William Doreski

The Mushroom Collectors

A tree falls. A turtle creeps
to the river to lay its eggs.
A chainsaw severs the distance,
then folds it like laundry. The light
compromises to accommodate

the voices of mushroom collectors
plucking through the muddy woods.
I hope I can evade the briars
that despite their freight of berries
want to crown me with my heresies.

The storm encouraged both mushroom
and chainsaw, the river rising
to weaken roots, then receding
with a cargo of brackish mold.
The mushroom collectors themselves

are fungus-drab in sad old clothes,
a family of four generations
muttering in a language only
their closest relatives can follow.
Caught in the corners of their eyes,

I’m small enough to place among
the mushrooms in their baskets.
I don’t know what varieties they pick,
don’t want to get close enough to hear
the little fruit scream when ripped

free of the mothering cilium.
Another tree falls. Whoever
wields that chainsaw must be gloating.
Overhead an airliner bound
for Chicago zippers the blue.

I hope I’ll never fly again,
the groundwork in this damp forest
difficult enough to organize,
that lone turtle laying eggs enough
to evolve and refresh the world.

William Doreski

lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.