Lisa Kelly

Darning Mushroom

humans share nearly 50% of their DNA with fungi – Paul Stamets, mycologist

My big toe is blooming from the hole in my sock
like a mushroom. It is pale and uninspiring,
and could be a button mushroom, mass-produced,
grown on manure, and not very tasty looking.

The sock is a somewhat more glamourous substrate,
worth saving from this fruiting body and its assault
on the mesh of blue wool fibres, like a stinkhorn,
phallus impudicus, poking its way through asphalt.

In a lightbulb moment, I insert one; the sock is stretched
over to expose the hole in a bulbous O
inviting my needle to pick up a stitch at the edge
to criss-cross with hyphae-like threads, as I sew

loosely from right to left until towards the hole’s apex,
stitches come closer, thread is gently pulled
to close the hole, finishing with a little looped knot.
Let my toe do subterranean work, like a prized truffle.

I remove the bulb; and later in an online thread discover
the darning mushroom, popular before synthetic textiles
mushroomed with throwaway culture. What do I learn
through repair? Strands connect us to what is worthwhile.

Find out more about Lisa on her website and Twitter, and on StAnza’s website.