Earth Tongue

Enchanter’s nightshade,
rattlesnake plantain,
a deer fly stumbles —
jumpseed —
through my matted hair.
In the daylong dusk of midsummer woods,
I find him with the flat of my hand.

White moths dot the ground,
flopping like landed fish.
Who knows what goes on up there
where the leaves run out?

The trees sweat.
Every fifteen feet, another web
& a spider the size of carpet tack.
Stinkhorn,
squawroot,
I wield my walking stick like a fencer’s foil.
No damage done: this species of spider
eats her own web each night,
starts fresh in the morning.

Listen, these woods are far stranger
than anything I can write.
Here’s a mollusk without a shell,
a four-inch hermaphrodite,
gray pinstripes stretched on a bed of moss.
I crouch down to watch its lubricated progress.
Eyestalks swivel to tune me in.

Somewhere close by, a tree gives way,
roots loosened by weeks of intermittent rain.
After the crash, a wood peewee
keeps bending the same two notes.
Earth tongue,
fly agaric,
his fondest wish is for the clouds
never to part.

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