Poetry Friday: Mushrooms

Earlier this week I took two of my great-nephews and my great-niece on a hike in a nearby nature preserve. We kept our eyes peeled for interesting leaves, flowers, insects, and more. We were surprised, though, by the profusion of mushrooms we found. They were everywhere! Most were creamy white or pale brown, but a few were yellow or orange-red. Many looked like a stereotypical toadstool, but others were quite exotic, with fluted edges, deep ridges, or coral-like branches. My niece exclaimed “That one looks like a potato!” She was exactly right. Because I have no expertise in mushrooms, I made it very clear that we could. not. touch. anything! That didn’t stop us from noticing them, and we soon lost count of the bounty at our feet.

This entire adventure seems like the perfect inspiration for a poem. But I’ve been distracted by other concerns (all good) this week. So I’m sharing a celebration of these mysterious, magical fungi by the inimitable Valerie Worth, the master of poems about small things. I am always in awe of her precise descriptions and her ability to find the perfect metaphor for the object of her attention.


The mushroom pushes
Its soft skull
Up through the soil,

Spreads its frail
Ribs into full
Pale bloom,

And floats,
A dim ghost
Above the tomb

Where an oak’s
Old dust lies
Flourishing still.

by Valerie Worth

Please be sure to visit Kat Apel at her blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Mushrooms

  1. Yes, I have seen lots of mushrooms lately also… in my yard and elsewhere. Wet summer. Thank you for sharing this poem by Valerie Worth. She is new to me, and I will have to read more, as I loved this… soft skull… frail ribs… dim ghost. Fabulous. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how sparse this verse that gives the perfect image “floats a dim ghost above its tomb” Sounds like you had a fun family outing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay. Now I’ll never be able to look at a mushroom again without seeing a ghost! I snapped a picture of some gorgeous red ones that appeared in the garden this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh! This is a Valerie Worth poem I didn’t know and I LOVE it! Mushrooms fascinate me and this take on them is wonderful.
    “Spreads its frail
    Ribs into full
    Pale bloom,”

    I agree with Linda that this would be a great mentor poem. I think I’m going to have to dive into those small poems of hers and play a bit. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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