The Mushroom King

Stephen Lightbown



The wait is hard when you count time in memories. 

But linger long enough, and the Mushroom King 

will emerge. Ears in the branches, hands made of 

moss and tree bark. His Sunday slacks woven 

from wild garlic and elderflowers. 


He took me to many fields. We’d travel 

through tunnels under roads. I’d feel mud 

on my bony knees. Once there, I’d see only green. 

He would appear, move a single 

blade of grass like a door of promise. 

And it would be there. 


Flat head, soft to touch, brown underbelly like 

wet cardboard. Once I knew how to look, 

I would fill rucksacks, small lunchboxes, 

hearts and fearless tummies. 


Come back, Mushroom King 

Come back, unclip the seatbelt that binds me

Come back, help me see the ground 

Come back, show me the dirt 

Come back, Mushroom King 


Over time I forgot where and how to look. 

I stopped going to fields, the faint scent 

of wild garlic became distant on the wind 

until there was just a breathless breeze. 


I’ve sat by his tree for fourteen years. 

A thousand leaves call as one waving hand.

Fear creeps into spaces that were once 

filled with mushrooms. 


I run my fingers through the parched earth. 

To touch, is like bristles on his chin. 

Is he here? 

Stephen Lightbown is a Contributor at Panorama




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