I missed them again this year.
I was immersed elsewhere
when the weather broke
and enough rain came.
In the treeshade, stealthily,
they nosed up through the sandy loam
and the damp leaf litter—
a sliver of colour, then another—
bringing their cryptic news
of what goes on down there:
the slow dissolve of lignum,
the filaments, the little nodes like fists,
assembling their nets and mists.
Some were bright red, some purple,
some brown, some white, some lemon yellow.
Through the night they nudged,
unfurling like moist fans, living sponges,
like radar dishes, listening.
What did they hear in our human world
of so-called light and air?
What word did they send back down
before they withered?
Was it Beware?
Look. The remnants:
a leathery globe of dusty spores,
a nibbled pebbly moon,
a dried half-sphere,
a blackened ear.
From Dearly by Margaret Atwood. Copyright © 2020 by O. W. Toad Ltd. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.