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World Truffle Poem By Sarah Lindsay

World Truffle Poem By Sarah Lindsay

This time the mycorrhizal infection
at the crooked roots of a hazelnut tree
meets a set of conditions so knotted and invisible
it feels like good will, or magic,
when the truffle begins its warty branches
that grow away from the sun.
This time it doesn’t stop with one fairy ring
and dissolute spores, but fingers its way
beneath the turf and under the fence
and past the signs for Truffle Reserve:
Harvest Regulated by the State Forestry Department,
out through Umbria, up the shank of Italy;
it enmeshes the skin of the Alps.
In time its pale filaments have threaded Europe and,
almost as stubborn as death, are probing
sand on one side and burrowing on the other
through the heated muttering bed of the sea.
Its pregnant mounds rise modestly
in deserts, rain forests, city parks;
yellow truffle-flies hover and buzz
at tiny aromatic cracks in Panama and the Aleutians.
It smells like wood smoke, humus and ore,
it smells of sex. It smells like ten thousand years.
It smells of a promise that a little tastes better than all,
that a mix and disguise is best.
Young dogs whiff it, twist in the air
and bury their faces in loam;
tapirs and cormorants sway in its fragrance,
camels open their nostrils for it,
coatimundi and honey badgers start digging,
lemurs bark and octopi embrace.
Humans sense nothing unusual. Yet some of them—
teachers raking leaves in Sioux City,
truck drivers stretching their legs in Ulan Bator—
take a few deep breaths and, unaware,
begin to love the world.

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