They, dark-skinned, leathery, nocturnal, who curl up into themselves, sneer at decay. They smell – not stinky, but strongly smelling of something overripe, licentious, yeasty and gloriously dirty.
These penny buns, the color of old pennies, are fruiting bodies Boletusboletus mushroom, which appeared in the last few days of the heat wave, grows along the edge of the linden alley in Bragintin Park in Oswestry.
Now, in the morning rain, the old mushrooms gooeyly decompose, leaking spores through tiny pores in the buns, which have the consistency of expanding insulating foam. The ruins of sexual architecture return underground, where their mycelium envelops the living roots of limes in an occult exchange of oxygen and nitrogen, helping the trees to conserve water. Overnight, new mushrooms have sprung up, solid and smooth, inviting you to a feast.
Brogyntyn is also called Porkington, and these penny buns are the same as the famous pork mushrooms of Italian cuisine; these are the fruits of the forests of the northern hemisphere. But not only humans and pigs are tempted by boletus; mushrooms are excellent hosts for fungus gnats, flies, beetles and slugs. These worm tracery, along with the jagged incisions of mice and squirrels, bear glyph-like markings that reveal secret texts. Suppose these signs can be read, what do they reveal?
On many of the dog days of August, it feels like something is hiding in plain sight. Behind droughts, fires, rains, and floods, there is a sense of stealth and mystery. The swifts went. However many there were – and it seemed that there were not many – they were now gone, as if it had all become too much. There is an absence that is not explained by the certainty of migration. Their passing is a reminder of such a great loss of life that grows daily, too many to count, lives not even reduced to memory but to dust.
Overheard in a household waste center, a worker talks about the “psychic dust” that blows around the spaces where we live. It may not have anything to do with ghosts of plants, animals, fungi, microbes, but it has a strange resonance with the mood of the time. Perhaps the psychic dust is carried around to become the next swifts or shadows of swifts. This is what we have to work with now: potency, something quantum in the mushroom spores of dark, lush, rotting, erotic life.