Wild Mushrooms

saint of the subterranean

Lisa Marie Basile

That I dreamed it, and then he died. He was bleeding brightly from his right side. I could see his marrow, a black spew. I knew that he could only die, and I felt the great blank sheet of terror move through me. A powerlessness that could rival any fallen god. No one came. A massive storm of — what is its  name? — love, compassion, fear. A massive storm of me. I could not make a threshold through. Shadow stood by, waiting its shadow-turn, and we nodded as friends do. There was a great suffering in the room; it was loud, oppressive, colored-in.

There was no way to tell its depth. There is no way. I was a tree. I had roots down to the bottom, and those roots had roots to the bottom, and that bottom had roots to the bottom. To the subterranean, where, if you can translate it, bathe in it, work to befriend it, it may become your cellar of light. I pass this light when I can, and then I sleep for days. I gave this light to him, but he was not saved. He was only there, in this earthly coffer, moving through the layers. I could sense each one blooming, breaking; I could feel his strength as he navigated pain. There was beauty in his resolution. To watch a man die, to watch a man transform, to watch him pour onto your hands like flowing water. To watch the act of sickness performed. To watch the fullness of the volatile. I want to say that I am always translating the dark; and I am always translating the light. The secret is that they are the same language. One is the other, is the other, is a marriage of haze. I heard the haze whisper; it’s calm. It’s calm now.


The water receded, and the body, through the scrim, moved up to the surface without struggle, and the angel closed in softly with a gentle, dark gaze, to lull, to cast, to bring sleep.

Lisa Marie Basile is the founding creative director of Luna Luna Magazine, the author of a few books of poetry (most recently Nympholepsy, which is featured in Best American Experimental Writing 2020) and nonfiction, including Light Magic for Dark Times as well as The Magical Writing Grimoire. She’s written for The New York Times, Entropy, Catapult, On Loan from the Cosmos, Atlas Review, Best American Experimental Writing, and more. You can follow her at @lisamariebasile and @Ritual_Poetica.