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  • Mycelia, and: Silver Pine Inn
  • Charles Harper Webb (bio)


She stands beside him as the guide tipsa morel to show gill-spirals measledwith gray spores. When he bends to seean orange milk-cap shrug from the mulchy [End Page 117]

forest floor, her head moves closerthan it needs—just as, when everyone piledinto cars for the drive here, her left breastpressed firmly against his right side.

"When conditions are right," the guideexplains, adjusting his flop hat, "mushroomsspring up from the mycelial mat.That can stretch for acres underground."

Rain whaps and splats the tops of trees.Soon drops will spill, and patter down.For now, the leaves are like his father's army tentthat kept him dry on rainy Saturdays.

"'Shrooms are amazing," he says to everyone."They really are," she says to him.He has a wife, two sons, and thought he wascontent. But now he feels mycelia pulsing

underneath his cropped green lawn and ranch-stylehome—under the field where his boysplay Little League—under the king-sized bedwhere, lately, his wife and he just sleep.

The woods are humid, temperature just right."Look here," he says. The others walk ahead,leaving to them an amanita muscaria's mind-alteringglory: red, burning, thrust into the light. [End Page 118]

Silver Pine Inn

Outside, a soggy snow slops down.Inside, a fire pops and cracks,straining to hoist the clammy coldonto its back and lug it, bucketby iron bucket, up the flue.

Snow has covered the toy trucksome child left next to my real one.Snow is covering that, too.My family, who normally loomlarge in my life as these mountains

that surround me, fall awayto ant size as I rise in the balloonknown as Room B-119,There's no phone here. TV'sbroken. Books lie unopened

in the suitcase I droppedbeside the bed. Now I can hearthe heavy banging I carrylike a boom box in my head.How painfully it shakes my bones!

If I sit long enough in this straight-backedchair, maybe I'll findthe dial, and learn the touchthat turns the banging down.If I open the drapes behind

my eyes and say, "Come in"to the dark that's poundedon my door for years, maybeI'll see what wants to speak to meso much. [End Page 119]

Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb's most recent book is Shadow Ball: New and Selected Poems (U of Pittsburgh P). What Things Are Made Of (U of Pittsburgh P) is forthcoming. He is a recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations and directs the MFA program in creative writing at California State University-Long Beach.



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