Foraging Doug Sylver I’ve heard poets say or more precisely I’ve read poets write that writing is hard work up at the crack of dawn nose to the grindstone at the computer even before the coffee kicks in squeezing out sparks something out of the nothingness and that the myth of the muse smacking you in the forehead with “hey, what about this?” is a lie a con an impossible dream like Santa Claus the Easter Bunny clean air and kindness. But I’m here to say or more precisely I’m here to write it’s not true or it is true depending upon like so much your point of view. Just now walking as is my routine foraging, gleaning, sifting through fragments earlier missed and at a busy intersection in the tall grasses of the median strip I saw clusters clusters upon clusters of mushrooms amateur forager that I am I immediately identified them as parasols umbrella-like as they soon will be when they open up maybe in the rain or maybe in too much sun. I then meandered over to the nearby park still urban enough but with green pieces almost wild in between since that is where I’ve foraged in the past and even brought some home made a soup and didn’t die of poisoning although I felt a bit dizzy but I think it was more the rush of knowing I was maybe killing myself and it tasted so good although my wife more more more everything than me refused to even sniff it. Meandering through the margins of this urban park the wild parts where I’ve found so many mushrooms before instead I find a young lady all in black ahead of me and looking down like she’d lost something that’s the way to find them your supposed to stand with your hands on the back of your hips and scan like a grandmother who’s lost her wedding ring and this girl all in black was doing all this but moving if slowly and looking over her shoulder at me even though I was ten or more feet behind her knowing we’re still in the era of distancing have been will be almost forever especially in situations like this but I blurt out to her curious as I am “Mushrooms?” implying “...are you looking for...?” pausing a bit looking ahead and down “Home” she says implying “...I’m looking for...” and there behind the barbed wire fence of a green holly hedge in the very margins of the world a blanket a backpack a barefooted boy all in black unmoving fast asleep.
Doug Sylver’s poetry has appeared in Seattle Arts and Lectures’
Sal/On and now, proudly, in Floating Bridge Press’s Pontoon
Poetry, among other places. His short prose is in The Sun
Magazine’s Readers Write and The New York Times has
published his vignettes in their Metropolitan Diary. His travel
writings can be found on International Living’s website.
He taught Language Arts and English Language Learners in
Seattle Public Schools for over twenty-five years, retired
recently, and lives in Seattle with his beloved wife, Monica.