Chris Dombrowski

Rex’s Georgic: Hunting Morels in Last Year’s Burn

White whorls, three flags of trillium splash up from charred ground. A Ponderosa’s boiled sap. Sometimes even in the spring even after the long snows you can find a trunk still smoldering.
Puckett, you are the worst goddamn mushroom hunter I ever saw. Like some drive-by mushroom hunter. Look: Slug always finds his ’shroom.
Crow-caw. Crow-mew. Wind from far away. Crow-bark. Wind in the dead chimes of the aspen.
Some folks’ll rub soot on their face for luck. Paint warrior-lines and such but it ain’t about luck ‘t all. Matter of fact you know Chick Alexander? Judge. Lost his son Abe when their baseball rolled under the porch. Right in front of you. Next to your foot.
Swallowtails, cabbage-whites, the dark scat of denning wolves. Little azures that love the dung.
So Abe goes digging after the ball and unwraps a den of young rattlers. Thirty-seven bites. And that’s countin’. You do know Chick, right? Yeah, well he’s a helluva mushroom hunter.
Dead deer. Button-buck. The difference between thistles and burrs. What the dead do is none of our business.
That swale there’s brimful of ticks so watchit. Had a ladyfriend once send me all these tick drawings after she left. She was thinking about me still. Said I was a tick under her skin.
Six swift clouds. Could enough of them erode a mountain.
Nope, I’ve never found ‘em on that hill, though I did find fifteen pounds of weed growing there one year. No buds. But back then a leaf would get you high. You just stepped on one. Other boot.
Sundogs, two of them. A whole hillside of trillium. Roots the Nez Perce used to boil to arouse their sleeping lovers.
Now I have heard that before. Knew a couple tried it once. Fucked so long and hard their short hairs knotted.
That? That’s a glacier lily. You can eat those. Watch.

Chris Dombrowski
Rex’s Georgic: Hunting Morels in Last Year’s Burn originally appeared in Colorado Review (XXXIII/3, Fall/Winter 2006).