Tuesday, December 9, 2008


You are a mushroom, but not just any old fungus. The kind that, in Italian, is called Orecchio, which means ear. It’s because you look like one – a human one, that is. Yes, human, yet wild, and proud of both. But you’re not the kind of mushroom to preen under harsh fluorescent lighting in an organic supermarket aisle between 12 types of tofu and bread so wholesome that it tastes like bark. No. You are a ruffle on a courtesan’s neck, though leathery, and only casually adorning the dark side of a tree. Still, you are so powerful that forest animals both large and small fear you. You try to keep it quiet that you are dependent on that tree. It’s not weakness, no! You’re intertwined with other life! Oh, how you two together thrive despite the many menaces out there. You’ve learned you share your forest with a certain stealthy someone – another survivor of so much hazardous wasted talk that his ears have grown so fine-tuned he can detect the fairy footfall of a fawn behind the quiet rustle of autumn. He wouldn’t believe that you have oftentimes detected his expert hunter’s feet, nearly soundless on your carpet of pine needles. He approaches. You recognize him, but wonder: Is he friend or foe? Suddenly, unceremoniously, he slices you from all you’ve known, deposits you with some loose screws, a bottle cap, and other random effluvia that have found their way into his jacket pocket. It’s only fitting. He’s been outed; now you have, too. And you thought you were so well hidden there, in the early winter light so dim it may as well be night. The next time you see anything you’re tossed onto a counter, trimmed, washed, and shoved to the edge of a cold stainless steel vessel. You have no way to fight it. But would you if you could? It takes some humans a lifetime to know what you learned in a summer. You accept. You submit. You don’t take it personally. It is all you have been given, it is all you have to give. It has to be enough. For in the end, those who would have sniffed at you as dull, dangerous, or even deadly, will never taste your texture, never see the beauty of your lying there exposed, exotic, wet and shiny against the unmoved sink – sacrificed for flavors that are so much more complex than brown or gray alone – never run a fingertip along your sheen of tussah silk. Lisa E. Paige Copyrighted material, December 2008

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