Paul Muldoon

(20 June 1951 / County Armagh / Northern Ireland)

Gathering Mushrooms


As he knelt by the grave of his mother and father
the taste of dill, or tarragon-
he could barely tell one from the other-

filled his mouth. It seemed as if he might smother.
Why should he be stricken
with grief, not for his mother and father,

but a woman slinking from the fur of a sea-otter
In Portland, Maine, or, yes, Portland, Oregon-
he could barely tell one from the other-

and why should he now savour
the tang of her, her little pickled gherkin,
as he knelt by the grave of his mother and father?

*

He looked about. He remembered her palaver
on how both earth and sky would darken-
'You could barely tell one from the other'-

while the Monarch butterflies passed over
in their milkweed-hunger: 'A wing-beat, some reckon,
may trigger off the mother and father

of all storms, striking your Irish Cliffs of Moher
with the force of a hurricane.'
Then: 'Milkweed and Monarch 'invented' each other.'

*

He looked about. Cow's-parsley in a samovar.
He'd mistaken his mother's name, 'Regan, ' for Anger';
as he knelt by the grave of his mother and father
he could barely tell one from the other.

Submitted: Friday, October 14, 2005

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  • William Keckler (12/29/2005 12:13:00 PM)

    I think whoever posted these poems by Muldoon switched titles...'Monarch and Milkweed' seems to be at the head of the poem which should be titled 'Gathering Mushrooms' and vice versa. (Report) Reply

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