To Mycorrhizae Under Our Mother’s Garden

Hyphal tubes,   symbionts,    exudates,

glomalin proteins,  pre-soil,     prevent the leaking out . . .

Fluttered root tips of           padded prickly pear,   sand
under anxious days,           enzymes, gill ghosts,

patched necromasses       under her clothesline,

keep spirit close.    Beneath feldspar,    redbold mica.

Nets of roots,       fate-kept not-death fungal sheets,
steady there,             abiotic mediators,      ones toward all.

Crawling              now     whirred opened cells,

Pleistocene       N-rich molecules              where rhizospheres

stayed still.         Days of salts, stomata, pores in leaves.

Dirt with furry prizes        turned      zero clouds where
chores were done,            to branch near places

she had moods, mendings.   Sewed buttons on.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi, mend her there.  Her here.

Mend moods here.  Pink & beige mold moods,    stay

the feet.   Forgetters,   spun threaders,        where dots

& arcs  host sugars.    Ampersands  of storage compounds,

weaving loves.   Carbon allocators,  micro-essays

of endomycorrhizal          dappled net
of never seen, don’t.       Light carriers,    don’t forget,

fungal tracers,   hold back below.

Tubes & branches,      microbe niche of ground,   

don’t forget her,    earth      that  held her up—


Copyright © 2022 by Brenda Hillman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 26, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I often invite my writing to include scientific and magical material. For decades I’ve been thinking about mycorrhizal webs and nets in the grounds of the planet. The poem refers to the earth of the Sonoran Desert where I grew up, to the garden my mother had to leave after sixty years there. Writing in layered stanzas like this allows different kinds of music, so I feel an energy beyond the despair about environmental disaster and human stress. Poetry connects us with all beings in the life cycle. Though my mother is not living at her house now, many other things are living in that soil, so I’m grateful. Respect is owed to the Indigenous peoples who were on the land long before my family lived there.”
Brenda Hillman