On Clitocybe Nuda
Peak of autumn’s deepening yellow
spotted with red on a slope
flaring a meadow,
a docile cow chained to the grass buzz,
folk songs, and Rock, no wind,
just the draft beginnings of a Polish wedding.
We are collecting mushrooms
above the pink municipal building
turned private home
since the Soviets, where weddings
are taken seriously I am told,
young people at the “passing gate”
where vodka is the toll.
It’s special, no? She says,
a dowry in another time
if the bride had been an orphan.
Which ones are these?
Spilt-wine, slick bulging cap
that smells of canned juice—
I know, she says,
it sounds like something else,
this lilac above moist duff,
shafts of saffron light.
Among the lush cornucopia of foods,
some half-eaten, some in the gyres
of their own skins, lemons, vanitas
life unraveling, the tipped-over goblet,
another half-full, sweet wine as in
a tulip, abandoned, the planetary grapes,
red dressed in squares of window light.
Amid this oyster glisten, gray-
green to silver, round on half shells,
the wild type in the Calvinist mind,
a little naughty sea fruit so real it
anoints the master brushstroke
in the Dutch Golden Age and you
can almost see their rimmed petals
contract to a finger’s touch, then
swell again, tidy flesh, pumps
of tissue, tears in a cup, the broad
Atlantic that passes for lips.