This entry is part 7 of 29 in the series Conversari


No more answering the phone
with my tongue, she says—
I have new gloves
whose fingers conduct electricity.
I am dendritic as lightning,
altering everything I touch.

I’ve been where she’s going
& she’s been where I’m going.
I raise my styrofoam cup to her
as we pass on the escalators.
She clutches the bottle-shaped bag
tighter to her breast.

We debate whether the lives of others
are ever fair game for art:
the moment, decisive or otherwise, when
the trap springs shut.
Perhaps we should be less like cameras,
more like leaves.

If I am the truffle, fruiting in secret,
these must be your roots with which
my hyphae are intertwined.
Who trammels whom? I think
I like this sugar spun from sunlight.
I will kill us some springtails,
harvest the fleas from the snow.

The sun moves out
from behind the house & dazzles me,
but its glare isn’t steady—it flickers
like a movie projector’s beam.
Small birds must be passing in front of it:
juncos, tree sparrows.
Refugees from the long boreal night.


See the photographic response by Rachel Rawlins: “Sparrows.”


leaf hand

I was dealt a singular hand, & learned
to do tricks with the light:
sun sugar, bittering
at an insect’s approach.
I donned a conjurer’s robe of air plants.
Below ground I have discovered
the prosthetic tooth of a glacier,
round & granitic, & I hold it
like hard candy in my mind,
that ultimate rope trick of rootlets
& mycorrhizal hyphae
that never quite touch.

In response to the Read Write Poem prompt, “be a tree.” Other responses are here.

(UPDATE) Hyphae, also called mycelia, are the “roots” of fungi; mycorrhizal means they are symbiotic with plants. See here:

In the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis between fungi and trees, the fungus completely ensheaths the tree roots and takes over water and mineral nutrient supply, while the plant supplies photosynthate. Recent work has focussed on gene expression in the two partners, on the effects of global change and nitrogen deposition rate on the symbiosis, and on the role of mycorrhizal fungi in connecting individual plants to form a ‘wood-wide web’.