Wednesday, October 30, 2013


… finding a good patch of morel mushrooms…a trace of the glad hearts of hungry earlier gatherers… — Jim Harrison
After an unseasonable rain,
at the end of the road, I found 
a stand of blue chanterelles
in the detritus of a pine stump.
I mourned the loss of a childhood tree,
but admired the gift it gave back.
They were more amethyst than black,
like fluted horns, or flamenco dancers.
Careful not to bruise them, I cut them 
with a silver knife, jealously guarding
their dark secrets, reveling in their muskiness–
like their dark truffled cousins, but with less bite.
A friend was up from LA visiting for her birthday 
so I opened the last hoarded jar of mushrooms
preserved in sweet clarified butter. Flecked 
in butterfly pasta, they were divine sparks
inspired by the salt tang of the sea
with glistening mauve shallots sautéed
& deglazed with a splash of old Madeira.
As she droned on about her poetry career, 
she picked out the offending fungus,
lined them up on the lip of the plate
in battalions, my rare woodland crop.
Perhaps they weren't true chanterelles,
but perse-hued pig's ears.


Debating whether to use full Harrison quote, and should I capitalize Pig's Ears? Then I'd have to do all the fungi, and it might look pretentious. 

There is something inscrutably satisfying about finding a good patch of morel mushrooms that travels far beyond their excellent flavor, perhaps a trace of the glad hearts of hungry earlier gatherers… — Jim Harrison

Since I lose the original draft because of cyber revisioining, I'm going to try & remember to post it under the poems. 

THis was the original note to Jim Carmin:
I once found a stand of black chantrelles at the end of the old road where I grew up in Forest Kinolls. We ate them carefully prepared, guarding them jealously, reveling in their rarity. They were like truffles. I wanted to do something special for my friend who was visiting me in Forestville. It was her birthday. I used the last chantrelles preserved in clarified butter, in butterfly pasta. The mushrooms were a divine spark seasoned with salt, butter, and madeira. I was stunned, as she talked, she picked them all out, one by one, my precious cargo—as if they were insects.


Art Goodtimes said...

ah, yes, the literary life -- writer friends who mistake delicacies for detritus ... but a lovely poem. can we run it in Fungi (out of wisconsin) -- i'm their poetry editor

Maureen Hurley said...

Oooh, Art,

I like that line—writer friends who mistake delicacies for detritus. Can I steal it? Thank you for the publishing offer. I'm honored and thrilled to the bone. Especially since the poem is still wet behind the ears. A young sprout. Not even a day old. Will work in some serious umwelt for your readers.