A Great Fungus by William Doreski

Walking past the pizza shop
reeking of crust, the men’s shop
flaunting silk ties dangly as tongues,
the pawn shop flashing diamonds,
the bagel shop, the tacaria,
I try to match your high-heeled stride,
try to understand the rustle
of your long black skirt. Defying chill,
your cable-knit green sweater
ripples like chain mail and shields you
from surly males unable
to comprehend such elegant
and flexible form.
Ty Whitmore
of Kansas City found a fungus,
a sulfur shelf mushroom weighing
over a hundred pounds. You’re keen
to speculate on the mental life
of such a monumental growth,
eager to affix its motive.
Why should it chose to outgrow
its colleagues so dramatically?
Mr. Whitmore tried to tote it home
but it broke and he lost half
into a cold deep creek.
You marvel
that he carried fifty-six pounds
of edible mushroom to a scale
at a roadside market. Maybe
he should’ve eaten the whole thing,
then weighed himself on the market scale.
Your heels clack along the sidewalk
and your skirt conceals the scissoring
of your formal but polished thighs.
Somewhere in its bifurcation
that fungus hears you speaking
of its despoliation, your green
cable-knit sweater draping
and concealing its private grief.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent books of poetry are City of Palms and June Snow Dance, both 2012. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge