License: Creative Commons - Attribution-Share Alike Author: Giles Watson
Pick them under pines, before their shaggy caps have blotched themselves to ink,
Blooming from the needled ground, where pungent horses’ turds have mouldered,
And the long stems have risen like corporeal ghosts, bruised by your fingers.
I like them seethed in milk, as my father cooked them once, when I was small,
And I ate them with relish, then spat into my sleeve, compulsively, in fear
Of poison. I remember them so well, still sizzling in their buttered bath,
In a white dish, and the way their pink-white flesh slithered through my lips,
A paroxysm of sense. The melting in the mouth of my first initiation.
The Shaggy Cap, Coprinus comatus
, is quite delectable, and never poisonous, although it should always be eaten before the cap begins to wither and the spores are released. Its near relative, the Ink Cap, C. atramentarius, is also edible, but should never be consumed in combination with alcohol, as this causes alarming symptoms, including nausea and palpitations.
Recording from my poetry reading at Longstone Heritage Centre, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, 17th August 2006.