25 February 2015

Mushrooms

Edible mushrooms in a basket by George Chernilevsky


Grandmother spoke mushrooms like no one else
Chanterelles, she said, morels true but don’t
eat the jack-o’-lanterns and false morels
death caps and destroying angel mushrooms.

Stick to lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms—
look for the ring around the stem, she said,
and she took me for walks with her basket
for gathering, her tiny knife for roots.

Gloves protected her fingers from poison
when she picked one each of look-a-likes to
match against pictures in her mushroom book
at home.  This was my favorite part, turning leaves.

Past undecipherable Latin names
were life-sized pictures with descriptions for
the mix and match game we played thoroughly
before washing and stir frying our treat.

Was it safe?  I live to tell the tale, though
I have since learned the ring can also lie.
Our woods, though, mothered and welcomed us, and
Grandmother spoke mushrooms like no one else.


For my prompt 

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Mother Tongue


Copyright © 2015  S.L.Chast



23 comments:

Jae Rose said...

What a unique and wonderful way into the prompt...we are quite excited about the idea of a mushroom hunt...but of course these languages are not just the action..they are a transmission of love and belonging and learning - hopefully

Gail said...

I had parents and grandparents that taught me. I only trust myself on a very few.

Beautifully written.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh I LOVE this! Lapped up every word, as a cat does cream. Grandmother tongue is the best of all!

Torie said...

This is great, Susan!! What wonderful moments we share with our grandmothers. So much we can absorb from them when we listen. This makes me think of my maternal grandmother. Her thing was always purses though. Not quite the same as mushrooms, but she did always know a good purse like no one else! :) :)

Sumana Roy said...

aww...cute mushroom language in that wise old voice wrapping up the little girl in the warmth of love....

Wolfsrosebud said...

ah... this was charming to read... love how you opened and ended

Mary said...

I like the idea of 'speaking mushrooms' really. If my mother spoke something, it would have been 'rhubarb' or perhaps 'tomatoes,' or maybe 'geraniums.' I know mushrooms are not grown, but harvested...so there is more a skill in finding them. I do think it takes a talent to choose the ones that aren't poisonous. As much as I like mushrooms I wouldn't trust myself to do that. You were lucky to have such a grandmother, Susan.

Myrna R. said...

I think our grandmothers knew so much. My grandmother spoke healing herbs, but I never listened. I love this poem Susan. I never even knew mushrooms existed until I was in my mid-twenties. Now I love them, but would never know how to pick the right ones from the earth. It sounds like your grandmother was special, and not just in speaking mushrooms. Great poem.

Old Egg said...

How stunning this piece is which is of course about love and trust. I happily gathered wild mushrooms in the UK but wouldn't dare in Australia!

Loredana Donovan said...

What a great memory this is of fun adventures with your grandmother, gathering mushrooms, trusting, learning, becoming close with nature and each other. Lovely! :)

Unknown said...

What a marvelous tale to be enjoyed by all. Grandmothers near and far sure did have that knowledge from another age didn't they?

kaykuala said...

Good to have someone to show the way. And you are able to rattle off their names. Just amazing Susan! There have been cases of poisoning. One can never be sure as it takes experience and not just books to know the edibles.

Hank.

Brian Miller said...

i actually wish i could speak mushroom...i love the taste of them....mmm sauteed or stir fried...
cool too that you had these times with your gramma

rallentanda said...

It was a time when we believed that our grandmothers knew everything. They did know a lot actually.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Love, love, love this poem!

annell4 said...

So many things, Grandmother spoke like no other.

Gen Giggles said...

A fun story. The knowledge thst we get from experience is useful to pass on.

Hannah said...

Goodness!! I love the cyclic quality of repeating the first line in your closing, Susan! This practice is one that I wish I were confident, (or daring/trusting!), enough to do. Beautiful poem!

Claudia said...

i know people who collect mushrooms themselves and have enough knowledge to separate the dangerous ones from the eatable... i myself wouldn't dare to try as i know that it needs some experience and some are not easy to identify

Gabriella said...

Susan, in my own family it was my grandfather who was the mushroom expert. He was a botanist and I trusted him. I do not think I now know someone I would go and collect mushrooms with.

Eileen T O'Neill ..... said...

Susan,

I love this personal memory and connection you shared from your grandmother.. A very specific subject, characterized by your grandmother. The full value of vocal contact, and the benefits of personal conversations, versus, the world of IT and computers and texting etc!!

Great prompt Susan,

Eileen

Suzy said...

Grandmothers were so wise. I learned so much from mine. Thanks for sharing as story about yours.

Anonymous said...

So cool! Very well put together! I love the looking at the pages (and the gloves!) k.