Mushrooms

by Mary Oliver

Rain, and then

the cool pursed

lips of the wind

draw them

out of the ground –

red and yellow skulls

pummeling upward

through leaves,

through grasses,

through sand; astonishing

in their suddenness,

their quietude,

their wetness, they appear

on fall mornings, some

balancing in the earth

on one hoof

packed with poison,

others billowing

chunkily, and delicious –

those who know

walk out to gather, choosing

the benign from flocks

of glitterers, sorcerers,

russulas,

panther caps,

shark-white death angels

in their town veils

looking innocent as sugar

but full of paralysis:

to eat

is to stagger down

fast as mushrooms themselves

when they are done being perfect

and overnight

slide back under the shining

fields of rain.