Honey Hole


The lower my estrogen dips, the more young
    men (in their delicate, whole-body certainty
that shatters like that, like ice calved off a glacier)
    grow downright adorable. O, those stoney oafs:
grinning, nodding and yawning at the same time;
    jocks with bare ankles, flashing slivers of
footie socks; jokers studying my face ha-ha-ha-ing
    up a laugh they tricked me into swallowing;
hollow-eyed gamers following deep-space commands.
    I’ve been too tucked into my own meaning to

notice: when they risk turning meaningful words loose
    into the world, they want all the dead to come to
groaning, “We will we will rock you,” stained glass
    windows to explode in slow-mo, standing Os, etc.
So when a glowing buzzcutted redhead and a very wellbehaved
    black lab marched up to me and B,
ramp hunting in our favorite spot and inserted himself into
    our orbit—our discussion of prepositions in poetry
[“the function: to dive!”] and family dramas—informing
    us in his meaningful-est voice, “Ma’am,

foraging ramps is not allowed,” I must’ve looked like
    I was gonna bust a pollinated nut: “I’m Jennifer…”
for I’d been waiting years to tell someone who actually gave a shit
    “…and I NEVER take the roots, ONLY the leaves because
I AM A RESPONSIBLE FORAGER!”   “You work here?”
    B purred, and that glow around the young man and dog
dilated. “Yes, I’m the Area Coordinator.”   B twirled
    a single finger at the charred, still-smoldering acreage
on both sides of the path [NOTE: tiny purple flowers sprouting
    from the ashes!]: “You     coordinated this?”   “Yes—

a controlled burn because, uh, invasives.”   “HEY!”
    I called. He looked over, and I waved   two green
ramp leaves atop my head like    bunny ears   at him.
    “Was the burn date posted on the park’s website?” B asked,
but before he could answer, I asked him    another question,
    then B,   on and on, until he declared,    “Wullhokay!”
and the two marched off in synchronized yet unequal strides—
    like how the cylinder circles the stiff prone plate
inside a music box.   “Adorable!” I elbowed B.
    “The only thing I heard him say was Not allowed.”

“Fire’s good for morels, though, right?” “Yes!”
    She reminded me the one morel we ever found
in that park was a fire morel [5/13/19 by M [B’s husband]
    on trail G]. Before that day, I’d never heard of fire morels.
The next day they were all over the news, cooking shows,
    prepper podcasts…mushrooms are like that: once
you see    one, you see them everywhere. A week later,
    I saw   the redhead   again in a coffee shop parking lot
and he   ID’d me:

Jennifer L. Knox is the author of several books of poems, most recently Crushing It from Copper Canyon Press. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Granta. She is the proprietor of a small spice blend company called Saltlickers.
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