Wild Mushrooms




When you first learned the world was round, even

the globe you held in your small hands and spun

to see the countries’ mismatched shapes and colors blur

seemed vastly improbable. Outside your window, anyone

could tell the land was flat, far as the Midwest eye could see.


And the same on a beach where water hissed

from a finished wave, or striding a valley hemmed

by soft hills. Climb the side of a ridge and look below: flat

as a pancake. But stand breathless on a true peak, and circle

carefully, eyes wide. How interesting … because what do 360


degrees suggest but round after all, and you at the axis

of the gyroscope, another childhood mystery object. You try

to imagine a bird’s eye view, great raptor wings pushing

gravity down. What if the osprey flew a straight line, had strength

not to stop even once—would it inscribe the world’s circumference?   


A writer speaks of her terror, views the new page

as an expanse of arctic white. How is it we open

the door of a warm room, time and again, set forth

on foot into the chill to stand at this brink, shivering

with a familiar mixture of hope and dread.

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Negative Capability Press, On the Seawall, Psaltery & Lyre, SWWIM, Stirring, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Lake, among others. A poetry editor for the online journals Right Hand Pointing and West Trestle Review, she currently lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, see anniestenzel[dot]com.