Thursday, April 22, 2021

Robert Hass (#NationalPoetryMonth)



Amateurs, we gathered mushrooms
near shaggy eucalyptus groves
which smelled of camphor and the fog-soaked earth.
Chanterelles, puffballs, chicken-of-the-woods,
we cooked in wine or butter
beaten eggs or sour cream,
half expecting to be
killed by a mistake. "Intense perspiration,"
you said late at night,
quoting the terrifying field guide
while we lay tangled in our sheets and heavy limbs,
"is the first symptom of attack."

Friends called our aromatic fungi
"liebestoads" and only ate the ones
that we most certainly survived.
Death shook us more than once
those days and floating back
it felt like life. Earth-wet, slithery,
we drifted toward the names of things.
Spore prints littered our table
like nervous stars. Rotting caps
gave off a musky smell of loam.
'Fall' is from Robert Hass' first book of poetry Field Guide (1973). It won the Yale Younger Poets prize that year. One could cook from it for weeks, eating well the whole time. The younger Robert Hass from the back of the book:

He looks like he just came back from mushrooming. Or maybe it was something else that 'late at night' messed up his hair.

Poem for a Thursday is a meme started by Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness. Brona has a poem by H.D. this week.


  1. i don't think i've ever seen mushrooms growing near a eucalyptus... sort of a nice poem, tho... even tho i'm not sure what he's talking about... poetry often eludes my simple mind...

    1. Maybe Hass wasn't a very good mushroomer after all! That would be disappointing...

  2. What a great poem! Thanks for sharing. :)