A Taste of Jerusalem in the Rockies

Fresh from home, we’re tramping the Americas
hunting for mushrooms, a friendly face
to remind us of those soft brown caps
who push their way to tempt us

between wild grasses in Jerusalem’s loamy hills

 

In a damp forest by a New Brunswick shore
we find natures fungal riches, sprouting from lichen,
bursting from rotting logs, under damp fallen
autumn leaves, pages ripped from a naturalist’s encyclopedia
thirty six varieties in all; white champignon look-alikes
browning fan-like toadstool imps,

long-legged gray umbrellas with plump bodies and cheeky hats,
reds and oranges in sprawling abandon,

striated, dimpled, a courageous adventurer’s pantryfull
but alas, not one we recognize as edible.

 

Over the continent we fly on gull’s wings
up through Washington state, peering in fall ochre
and russet ground coverings, under straw beds,

behind cushions of beetle heaps, next to snail trails
and find twenty new varieties, all delightfully dressed

yet like strangers, doubtful at an autumn ball

we feared to taste their debutante delights?

 

And then, under shady pines between Banff and Jasper
where the Canadian Rockies rear their white-tipped heads
over turquoise lakes and flashing streams
between elk and deer tracks silent between breaths

lest our presence disturb the resting fauns or geese,
in the quiet, a familiar whisper, a word of Hebrew perhaps?
 

There, shy under the conifers beside our feet,

a friendly light brown head and then another, a crowd,
and lifting one gently from its needle bed, we turn it over
and behold a cheerful familiar yellow sponge winking
under the pines just as in our Jerusalem home

 

We smell them, breathe in their earthy fragrance
photograph them, but being cautious adventurers
leave them un-gathered for some local traveler to discover.
Still, I wonder how these pine mushrooms would have
tasted adorning a roasted Canadian wild turkey.

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© Johnmichael Simon

2006

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