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Dr. David Shevin
When I got here those mushrooms were not
On the ground. The thistles did not reach so high.
The long rains were starting to dry, the tall grass
On hillside was drunk in the lush of its life.
Along all the damp ground a new glaze
Of needle and leaf set out an outing for bugs
Of all sizes, black ants and beetles and crawly things
That get harder to see in my mid-life myopics.
Then those fleshy umbrellas were not happening
Coming late for storm season, they waited
On process, on humus and breakdown and nitrates
That mulching, ferment and lots of good bugging
Left sit. Those smart spores can spot a great
Culture to spawn in given time. And what has
A fungus got but time and a sound plan?
I pick this one up (how they incubate,
More knobbing than rooting!) in my hand
With the picture of what the surroundings
Would look like if I were a dung beetle --
Stiff trunk and nut colored sky lop-sided, radial
Dosing me like a rash hypnotist's pinwheel.
The cool of its flesh sleeps sweet in my palm.
Those fat lilies were made to swallow
The day's fog. The mushroom is some other
Class of a class act, a composted billow
Of plan after seeding and feed do their work.
Revolution is turning the right knob, right door.
A few days ago those mushrooms were not here.
Conception is opportunity and anything more.
Rebecca Devanney, 1954-1981
In a boiling pot of horseflies and straw grass
and black eyed Susans and some wild purple
burgeons, I realized it was twenty years
since I sighted you wild in a clearing
somewhat like this one, but South, and far away.
What have you done in the earth all these years
while we've only completed emotional business
in dreams or the spirit world? I was driving
down roads with dried stems for their borders.
One side of the road was a green wall of corn
and one side of the road was a green wall of beech
which stopped at a willow. When I stood
in the day's burn, the air held the feel
of wild Irish hilarity, heavy with green and the efflux
of the big insects' season, the buzz of the field.
I thought you the only flower in the dangerous world,
and too soon we learned just how dangerous.
So we know, and enough now. Enough of this death,
sleeping infant. There is too much new music
to hear, and the jerk of sleep is too short a time
in which to share all that this kind life deserves -
yes, kind despite all the ulcers and lost blood
and fortune that goes who knows where.
Check out what today has in Seneca County
upriver from the Izaak Walton League house:
heavy and pollinated air, a hot moment that grabs you
all close and stickier than a shadow, sweeter than sex,
big as all Adam and almost - almost in all the day's
cloud and the new moon's chrome - almost virgin
all over again.
The rumble rose slowly, across a big lung
to a call, then a cry, then a squeal,
as city siren proclaimed the midday.
We postured our energy for the new meridian.
Eagerness was the hardest product to manufacture
in that industry. In a few hours, a swift
took flight at dusk. Winter season, silver
moon, and a rumble rose slowly in winnow
and throatpipe on the Doberman two houses
North. In timing and pitch, it was clear
that he called in response to that whistle
at noon, just ten hours before. "Slow,
slow reflexes," I thought. He was waking
to new snow, surprised in the dance
and the flight of brown bunnies by moon
wherever he turned. "Bunny at corner
of alley and brick pile!" called Setter
from over the block. And Doberman thought
little of it, too far. He rolled
in a cold yard, and growled for a while
about Schopenhauer, then called back again
to the siren from noon. No response.
Meanwhile, two other rabbits debated
the upshot of crocus come up under pine
and Doberman barked his opinion on gardening
until these scatted as well. Cold and Wind
were debating the team from New Blossom
that wins the debate every school year
at this time. And Doberman talked to his Soul
and to Setter, to gods of striations in shivers
of air current, he hooted his praise
for lavender caught in an abrupt breeze
surprising himself with so much monologue
that he was still wide awake to engage
next noon's whistle. Hump day. We looked
for the coming of second shift, stretched
for a break. The workday's numbness felt deep,
and we wished the dogs had not wrecked our sleep.
The garage roof was high and the aluminum
ladder contorted in Duchamp's odd visions.
We were so small then. The crabapples were
smaller, and some of them soft. The garage
ledge was high.
My brother took more quickly
to that flat and tarpapered roof than I did.
It was a long, impossible and slowpitch toss
from that moment to the rockclimbing days
(maybe making the ascent from adolescence?)
when I looked straight into vacuum and sky
and forgot about fear, if only for a few
hundred feet. My clench on protection caught
some winged dragonfly
--heck, I was halfway
through the air and my nuts didn't hurt. Still
that job to sweep the crabapple harvest
from the roof was serious. The old ones
cooked in a ripe ferment, some ritual dish
for a pagan dump sacrament, and the weight
of such a rich worm's stew threatened
(not in the weight of small apples
but the dread that the fruit-choked
gutterpipe would back up a waterstand,
collapse the erection all over the green
...Oh, that short stamp of a roof
was a world. We were so small! yet it was
a triumph, and I made the mesa top, and we swept
and threw apples and leapt in the heights
and targeted the neighbor kid:
WHAP with an apple. Brave dinky soldiers
of the corps we became. And I hug my brother
still, reach for that time
...still no rue
in that push to have left. I climbed. I don't
want another life or even the daring sweeping again.
I don't want four decades of breath back
else how could I be looking deep into the wealth
of this trusting woman's eyes, this gaze
that simply knows? This moment I need not explain
the steaming and wounded brevity of this life's
so sweet, so August, so lush and full-of-future
mind on the sticky leaf and fruitrot top
of the cement
garage in some small city that looks like a dream
but once looked like forever.
(These poems first appeared in WASTELANDS REVIEW #2, 2000)
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