Nothing on the tongue more subtle; from the earth,
not of it; of garlic, clove, oak, air,
and stars if stars were small enough to taste
and sprinkle on risotto.
With difficulty cultivated under
hundred-year-old oak as the Californian
knew: replaced fifty acres of sequoia
to make a grove from topsoil, loam
and seedling oak, shipped from Provence across
an ocean and a continent by steam,
so his grandson could sell the fungal pearls
to gourmets in San Francisco.
Rare as honest speech, the best of these poems
of oak from earth are not harvested but
discovered by a farmer’s hungry pig.
No reverence or commerce checks
his desire to devour the tuber whole.
Watch the farmer swing a barbed switch
to keep the muzzled snout
from bruising what it cannot eat.