Photo by Beth Burrell


by Robert Knox

We always knew it.
Sometimes we heard them at the edge of things:
Why couldn’t we stay on the path?
They murmured, one to another
Don’t we see the lines of communication
we are blundering over,
like clumsy beefalos in rutting season,
stepping on the tender eukaryotic
fibers, interlaced with a dash of muscaria
(or is it music?)
beneath mulch and duff and moss and lichen,
networks that buzz like the switchboards of the gods?

The seeding pines are calling
And there’s trouble on the way far-out where branch and twig
are sniffing in the wind
for wildfire, parasitical plagues, slack-jaw beetles
and too much phosphate run-off
from the ever untamed yardwork gangs
poisoning the earth with dead chemicals, those poor soul-less
Frankensteinian mismatches,
who cannot hear our calls
or inhabit the truth of our pheromonal invitations.

Hear, then, the mycorrhizal switchboard
We are the call centers
of the cellular nexus,
the talented guts of the wood-wide world.
We are the talkers
And someday soon we are talking about you:

Step lightly among us,
our children thrive at ground zero,
they mutter in their sleep,
exhaling carbon to their playmates…

And dream, yes dream,
of becoming like us.