The Kingdom of Ignorance

Listen to the poem above.Machu Picchu Enigma

“Machu Picchu Enigma” © 2011 by Jane Shoenfeld
Armillaria bulbosa,
a common mushroom, can grow
larger than a blue whale.
One was found in Minnesota
whose cytoplasm spans
thirty-seven acres underground.

It weighs fifteen-hundred tons
and is as many years old.
No other mushroom
dares to grow in its realm.
Let us toast to invisible spores
extending the Kingdom of Fungi.

And across the savanna
elephants signal each other
in sounds too low for human ears.
They tell about water, poachers,
or to come to the funeral
of one of their fallen.

Oh, the boulder aflame
with migrating Monarch butterflies,
the salmon’s return
to the scent of its spawning,
the data dance of bumblebees,
the vastness of armillaria bulbosa.

We could trek to Minnesota
to honor this mushroom monarch,
then on to the boundless domain
of Siberian tundra
claimed by a single slime mold.
Here’s to fungal reigns

unmapped and unexplained.
Praise be to mold
on the food that we hoard,
to the shaved heads of ringworm,
to stinky feet and itchy crotch.
And to the universe of scents,

of which the common dog
is a scholar.
Here’s to the solemn procession
of elephants
and to our ignorance
and awe.

Maryland Poetry Review
reprinted in The Kingdom of Ignorance, Finishing Line Press