From: Alice Said

“Ode to Arik Roper”

And like a dream, you see a child
sitting cross-legged with his mother in the Alaskan prairie,
watching her sketch mushrooms
canopied beneath tall grasses –
her eyes content, studying,
and studying,
and studying
the gills below the cap,
its texture, tones – trying best
to think like a beetle, a grub – trying best
to understand the rub
before resurrecting.

But there is no mother with you
in Brooklyn – somebody’s house party
with some band jamming in one room,
drinks on consoles, toilet seats, kitchen tile,

and a heaping bowl of ’shrooms on the dining room table.

How many you had held
suddenly seems peripheral
as you lie still, voiceless, on the row house rooftop,
your memory hitting rewind
again, and again – seeing

the damp, dank network of new roots
you could not see beneath the Alaskan prairie – seeing

the fantastic – fantastic – underside
of an Amanita muscaria
looming – looming – above you
as if your eyes were the eyes of a glowworm – seeing

Psilosybe mexicane towering like masts, like steeples,
still feeling the burning sunset from hours and hours ago, whispering
No se sorprenda nadie porque quiero – seeing

as early morning light pulls you back,
like the gems you watched your mother sketch –
back down beneath the blades,
to settle,

lightless –
to hug the roots that call,
have been calling since childhood.

With nothing to confess,
no guilt, no weight,
this junction, this fork in comprehension
is where language has no use, where,
wrapped with the senses,

you are carried,
and carried,
and carried,

but never forgotten –

for what once had been carried,
and carried,
and carried in memory,
tucked away and hidden,

is now released.

Credit: First appeared in the North Dakota Quarterly: 87.1-2: 217-18.