by Rachel Beechin
You swirl around the pan in a dance led
by my wooden spoon, and even as your
firm, white flesh softens to browned mush,
you’re beautiful. The overhead light glints
off the slick marsala, the sauce that wouldn’t
be the same without you, because even if I can’t
stomach you, leaving you out would deprive
the dish of your subtle earthiness, your quiet umami.
You, who are known by many names: common-
white, cultivated, table, champignon. You,
who are identified by the gills on your hymenium,
the ring around your stipe, and your convex cap.
You, who should not be confused with your
doppelganger, destroying angel, for its weapon
of choice is amatoxin. You who devour detritus
by means of extracellular digestion, a process
which sounds intimidating until I realize that
the same happens inside my own mouth.
You release spores into the air that settle into
the soil like snow. Though tonight, you simmer
in my pan, the day will come when your cousins
will make a meal of me. One day, when I am
laid beneath your mycelium-root, you will break
down my body, cleansing the ground that is around
me, and the ground that I will be, so that something
new can flourish from this decay.