Fungal waterways

For dverse.


House sits within its moat of rain water
where the salamander lives
and running grass green
and the cowshed where the toad
swims under the door
and the veil of raindrops dripping
from the eaves dripping in the attic
and inside the windows
and the places where it bubbles
up through the floor.

House sits full of the smell of water
cool and cold and we listen
to the patter on glass the rattle
down chimneys feel the stones slip
into some other world of water
and watery things.

Night is deep and well-dark
ditch-full of rain and the crow wind
and when the light returns
in the grass running down the green path
water-running will be the ragged
ghostly procession of white agaric
water-gorged and tasteless.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

33 thoughts on “Fungal waterways”

  1. 28 years ago, when we first bought our home, with it’s full basement, we constantly had flooding in the basement. We live at 1 foot above sea level, and water rules.After years of fighting it, we put in industrial sump pumps, and stayed dry for the last 20 years. Your piece is wonderful. I liked “night is deep and well-dark, ditch full of rain and the crow wind..” and “feel the stones slip into some other world of water.”

  2. This is so engrossing Jane, made me feel soggy and chilled. Excellent piece. I am sharing this interesting fact today: A “Armillaria Ostoyae” mushroom, in the Malheur National Forest, in the Strawberry Mountains of eastern Oregon, was found to be the largest fungal colony in the world, spanning an area of 3.5 square miles (2,200 acres; 9.1 km2).

    1. Thank you, David. I must get this weather out of my brain, but it’s hard when it’s in your face 24 hours a day!

      I cheated about the white agaric. They were growing in the grass all around the west side of the house until the deluge started a week ago and they’re all washed away now.

  3. Oh dear, jane, this is so close to home! We had our first flood the year I retired from teaching, I remember the bubbling through the floor, and we’re still trying to erase the signs. We used to have newts and frogs, but a salamander would have made it more cheerful. The most evocative lines for me are:
    ‘House sits full of the smell of water
    cool and cold and we listen
    to the patter on glass the rattle
    down chimneys…’
    the Dylanesque:
    ‘Night is deep and well-dark
    ditch-full of rain and the crow wind’
    and the
    ‘ghostly procession of white agaric
    water-gorged and tasteless.’
    I think my porridge has curdled!

    1. I’m sorry if it brought back unpleasant memories, Kim! We’ve slipped so far away from our notions of reasonable comfort that We’re getting used to is. The water through the tiles in the bedroom has gone down and we’re dry again though I don’t know why, since it is still pouring and outside is like the Passchendaele. Some happy law of hydrodynamics. I hope your house is water tight now!

  4. This brings to mind when I was visiting a textile mill for the company that employed me at the time and found mushrooms growing on the rug in the motel room. It makes me feel creepily damp all over again. I hope you get a raft of sunny days soon! (K)

    1. Thanks. It’s a structural problem, and in one way, it makes us feel more in tune with what’s going on outside. In another, it’s a way we’d rather not know about in that much detail!

      1. Do you think the people who have got their house just where and how they want it, with the outside firmly outside and out of sight, and the central heating and air conditioning inside, are really as content with it as they claim? I reckon they can’t be, because they’re the people who change their kitchen and bathroom every couple of years.

  5. Lots of margins on this Earth, and cold and wet is tropical compared to abyssal vents or permafrost … hard to get to those places, but thanks for taking us two doors down below.

  6. Oh so masterfully descriptive, even as I sit huddled inside my apartment listening to the sound of water dripping in your poem and “feel the stones slip/into some other world of water.” beautifully penned, Jane.

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