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American Life in Poetry

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate

Those of us who have hunted morel mushrooms in the early spring have hunted indeed! The morel is among nature’s most elusive species. Here Jane Whitledge of Minnesota captures the morel’s mysterious ways.

Morel Mushrooms

Softly they come

thumbing up from

firm ground

protruding unharmed.

Easily crumbled

and yet

how they shouldered

the leaf and mold

aside, rising


breathing obscurely,

still as stone.

By the slumping log,

by the dappled aspen,

they grow alone.

A dumb eloquence

seems their trade.

Like hooded monks

in a sacred wood

they say:

Tomorrow we are gone.


Reprinted from Wilderness Magazine, Spring 1993, by permission of the author. Copyright 1993 by Jane Whitledge. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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