American Life in Poetry: Column 102

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Those of us who have hunted morel mushrooms in the early spring have hunted indeed! The morel is among nature’s most elusive species. Here Jane Whitledge of Minnesota captures the morel’s mysterious ways.

Morel Mushrooms

Softly they come
thumbing up from
firm ground

protruding unharmed.
Easily crumbled
and yet

how they shouldered
the leaf and mold
aside, rising

unperturbed,
breathing obscurely,
still as stone.

By the slumping log,
by the dappled aspen,
they grow alone.

A dumb eloquence
seems their trade.
Like hooded monks

in a sacred wood
they say:
Tomorrow we are gone.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted from Wilderness Magazine, Spring, 1993, by permission of the author. Copyright © 1993 by Jane Whitledge. Introduction copyright © 2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.