Warm Mushrooms

February 3, 2009 § 2 Comments


Charles and me, wedding day

I went to thenation.com to read about the banking rescue/ /givaway/gamble, got distracted by a poem by Tomaz Salamun, and wanted to paste it here but it’s subscription only so I don’t think I should. But here’s a little—

women want to be more than metaphor.
With their moist, round, soft skin, with their
drunken scent of warm mushrooms they drive me insane.

I love that last line, especially considering it’s a translation from Slovenian. It makes me remember evenings of drink, food, sex, the country, trees and night: youth, being driven insane. There was a time when the US was in financial crisis, the late 70’s, and I noticed and was affected, but not terribly; it was never as important as the night, wine and poetry (poetry was the closest thing to God I knew). Not as important as mushrooms wiped with a damp cloth and cooked fast in hot butter until almost black, then heaped in a bowl with a little salt and lemon, and eaten in bed after sex. Cooked after sex, I mean, naked in the kitchen together—what did we talk about, how did we touch? I don’t remember.

How much does  Charles, my dear, distant husband, remember? He’s flying this weekend to that same town in Virginia where neither of us has lived in 30 years. He’s visiting his girlfriend with whom he has wild, passionate sex. He doesn’t tell me details, but he says that much. I think I should be jealous but only feel blank. He deserves this. I’ve had my share of adulterous romance in the last several years. What we had that was precious, in bed, was so long ago; nostalgia touches it with wonder; it has nothing to do with today. At the same time, nothing can surpass those Charlottesville nights—when, mind you, I was unhappy because youth drove me insane—happiness and unhappiness threaded together so close, so glittering, sharp, blurred, gray and immense. Our rented house was in the middle of a 1,000 acre cattle farm, black angus; when we walked at night, we’d be among cows we could barely see, the dark shapes moving to let us pass, that strange almost-fear of their size jolting me now and then, as well as wonder at how docile they were, these large beasts waiting for slaughter.

Now I wait for slaughter (okay, not really. Big change.) I find poetry on the Web and it startles me. I have a few hundred books of the stuff and hardly ever open one. Youth is wise in what it refuses to know. I see my nieces holding up their shields—don’t interrupt me, I’m being young!—and applaud them. They’re hurting through this crisis, but not ready to sell a body part yet. I hope.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…




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