Poem of the Week: Mushrooming

I mostly post my poetry first on Instagram, (unless it is a patron-exclusive poem). Then, each Sunday here on the blog, I post the poem that has got the most Insta likes.

If you’re on Instagram, let’s follow each other. You’ll find my account Orna Ross.poetry here.

The poems are inspired by photographs, sometimes taken by me, sometimes by others.

My most popular poem on Instagram this week was, “Mushrooming”.

And now for this week’s poem:


Just as a woman is not an animal,
and a poem is not a mineral,
a mushroom is not a plant
but a fungus.
This is a poem about that.

Like fish, mushrooms have gills.
Like trees, they have stalks.  
Like us, they have memories
and a kingdom of their own,
neither animal nor plant,
inhabiting underground realms
run by their own rules,
consorting with shape-shifters,
fairies and elves,
who sit on their protean stools.

The mushroom we see
is only the fruit of the fungi.
Its body is a mycelium,
made up of tubular threads.
Hyphae (hi-fee).
Filaments that spread
in microscopic webs.
Some travel as much as
hundreds of miles
on their dark journeys,
invisible and dispersed
feeding on the dead
to know life.

The fruit of their looming 
is all we see,
when conditions mushroom
from some source of food
a collared earthstar
or a puffball, the jelly ear
that grows only on wood.
From soil, prefera or truffles,
brackets or cups,
and my favourites
the ladies of the veil.

Puff! They appear overnight.
Just as a girl is born
with all the eggs she’ll ever have,
a mushroom comes into being
with all cells extant,
so can grow without time
to divide.

They do require water
But not too much, no.
Damp is their domain.
They need to breathe
just as humans do
And poems too.

A mushroom is not a plant.
A poem is not a mineral.
A woman is not an animal.
This has been a poem
about that.

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Orna Ross


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