I Wanted to Write a Poem
I wanted to write a poem1
about the biology of a mushroom.
I had intended to use scientific terms
like mycelium and spore dispersal –
not to celebrate the mystery of creation,
but to sound eloquent, wise.
I was adamant that each line be research-based
with supporting proofs in footnotes,
and a list of references, including obscure mycologists
aching for public attention.
But then, as if stirring with some revelation,
I realized what I was attempting to create –
what I had hoped to conceive via facts and fundamentals –
is exactly what poetry is not.
A mushroom in a poem can educate,
but not by lessons on fertilization;
words need not be sound or practical,
but atypical, if not profound;
the images drafted – though they may focus
on isolationism, on seclusion, on secrecy –
are best with a setting not of a forest’s floor,
but, say, the confinement of inner-city projects for the elderly.
I wanted to write a poem
about what makes a mushroom what it is.
But what it is, is boundless.
1 The phrase “I wanted to write a poem / about the” was borrowed from Tony Hoagland’s poem “The Wetness” (“I wanted to write a simple poem / about the”)