Poetry: The Fungus, the Fruit, and the Apex Predator by Audra Puchalski

Audra Puchalski’s new poem aims direct at an ultimate concern: who is coming to save us? For “The Fungus, the Fruit, and the Apex Predator,” the answer is not what you expect—more toothy than merciful.


The Fungus, the Fruit, and the Apex Predator

The mushroom is not the fungus, the mushroom
is the fruit. And when the wolves
came back, it was like they put a hat
on empty space and the rest
of the person reassembled piece
by piece underneath—
beavers, aspen, beetles,
wolverines, lynx. As children we feel
everything: seam of a sock,
a tag. We practice dullness, practice
adapting stupidly.
So let the apex predator of us
reenter, snarling, let it tear the throat out
of whatever’s stealing our repose,
let it leave that thing out
half-eaten, a snack
for us to share with our friends
before we go home to our regenerated
habitats. I guess what I’m saying is,
eat the rich. I guess what I’m saying is,
chase villains into the sea. I guess
what I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be great
to figure out which wolf we needed, which wolf
was missing, which wolf was hunted down
too soon by ignorant park rangers and which
wolf whose return, like a furry, murderous,
plural Messiah, would save us?



Audra Puchalski

Audra Puchalski is from Michigan and currently lives in Oakland, California. Her work has also appeared in Bat City Review, Juked, Cutbank Online, and others. Her chapbook, Queer Hagiographies, was published in 2020. She imagines most park rangers are probably highly knowledgeable. She tweets sporadically @audrapuchalski.

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