FOREST'S FIRST FUNGUS
An early spring hike through the woods
reveals winter's toll on its trees and forest floor,
with little green and no leaves
to hide bare branch or bark.
Many shapes and forms of tree fungi
climb live trees and dead stumps,
and put on a show this time of year.
Winter's freeze and spring's warming thaw create cracks
which are open invitations for parasitic fungus
to grow in brackets, resembling oysters and sea sponges
which can become quite large,
some soft, some hard as wood.
Unlike their edible mushroom cousins,
these tree fungi are usually toxic
and not for the soup pot.