There are moments of
moist surreptitious love
which make even
the heavens jealous
of where we tread.
Fungi are ubiquitous,
but visible only to those who understand invisibility—
This filigree of life
beneath the leaves underfoot,
threaded in intimate copulation—
teeming, gnawing, resurrecting.
Life as we know it
vanishes, become illusive.
Bacteria hide within
bacteria, virus within
What I am about
to step on has
already spread itself
into this fungal vastness.
Much like the plant root system, Mycelium (pl. mycelia) is a root-like structure of a fungus in which fungal colonies exist.
Witchcraft Nights in Mawlynnong
On a moonless night in Mawlynnong
you switch off the lights
and allow your eyes
to absorb the night’s velvet touch.
From a nearby Sohra comes the hum
of bees travelling for orange honey—
hmmm hmmm hmm
you smell with the heart
into the headiness of a citrusy orange night—
And wait then,
for that luminous pop
Tiny, bioluminescent, secretive
Like fairy lights,
on witchcraft nights—
they light up corners,
you didn’t know existed.
Suddenly this delicate decadent sway,
a gentle seductive dance,
of a night relying on wonder—
Mycena become pathfinders here,
a surreal world comes alive—
magic buttons, glowing asteroids,
silver Saturn rings, luminous comets—
Light becomes a hysterical circadian rhythm here.
Hesitant honey pots, a sweet song, an ensnarement
a sudden lethal sting, a desperate mating call
the Mycena chlorophos.
Mawlynnong is a village in the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya.
Sohra is the traditional name of Cherapunji, denoting fruit (primarily oranges).
Mycena chlorophos is a rare bioluminescent fungus primarily found in subtropical Asia. It emits a pale green light in the dark, and was recently discovered in the forests of Mawlynnong in the Khasi Hills.
Maitreyee B. Chowdhury is a nonfiction writer and poet. She is the author of four books, The Hungryalists (nonfiction) and Where Even the Present Is Ancient: Benaras (poetry). Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen: Bengali Cinema’s First Couple was nominated for the 2013 Crossword Book Awards. Maitreyee is an organiser of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival and managing editor of The Bangalore Review. Maitreyee’s writings can be found in both national and international journals. Her forthcoming work is on the reclusive Bengali poet Binoy Majumdar. She can be found at https://www.maitreyeechowdhury.com/