Raised by Mushrooms

Quieter and subtler their doctrines
than those of wolf or bear or eagle.

Theirs the slow speechless semiotics
of spores and spreading filaments.

Theirs the thrift of those who harvest
death, subsisting on decomposition.

I took their gifts for granted:
the thousand truffled feasts,

the pharmacopoeia to shift my mood,
the green light they shed by night.

For years, they understood me better
than I understood my own slight self.

They taught me caution, a fear of men,
the art of being underestimated,

taught me, too, their fatal tools,
pale poisons swift to smite a foe.

And when, at length, I took revenge
on the prince who’d cast me out,

then, only then, I knew myself
a weapon they’d raised for war.

—Mary Soon Lee