This prose poem was inspired by Mary Oliver’s “Mushrooms.”
We follow the trail to the narrow beach where we’ll search for sharks’ teeth, listen to the tidal Potomac lapping, and feel far, far away from the din of DC’s beltway. Along the path, we spy a fly agaric, not an insect at all, but a mushroom near which you’d usually note a gnome pondering life, leaning on a wood-grained cane. We pause to admire this red mushroom with white polka dots. No gnomes are in sight. We agree it looks fake, as if someone has planted a prop for our viewing, minus the fairy. My companion mentions that the most beautiful mushrooms are the deadliest as if we might be mesmerized by beauty, taste, and be vanquished into the dark mist of a medieval forest. True pragmatists, we forego mushroom tasting to venture onward toward fossils, relics of the past, not future.