we found something like turkey tail on a stump,
and another bunch of spongy mushroom caps in the grass—
they burst open when you held them
a fruiting body
something like disgust
the subject of this text
is the inactivity of the virtual;
all possible outcomes
collapse into odor
the smell of banana-flavored candy
comes from an extinct varietal
wiped out by a fungus blight in the 1950s
we try to catch a whiff,
we draw near,
or we back away
reconfigures before decay
there was no poisoning,
no great practical importance
at some point, it draws
a nervous torpor,
a tendency to collapse
let fields become voids
for the collective
their fortunes in absences:
of knotweed, of fungus, of single-celled organisms.
we have ruined or not yet built an ecology in the belly of a gorged beast.
when the industrial revolution festers,
recover its byproducts for fertilizer
for nervous feasts
for unkempt, unguarded archives.
I don’t think I’ve met a farmer,
in two years,
that wasn’t on zoom.
we use a satellite to describe the smell of dirt.
we’ve always been terraforming,
hypothesis running backwards.
ancient farmers accidentally sterilized fields
the machines are larger now,
and you turn some dials
to turn things on
a blast furnace.
eventually, along the way,
you’ve turned on an atmosphere drive.
a viscous refrain grows louder.
vitality pushes past an understanding of matter.
sit in the sun,
impressions strike from the side,
try to notice light reflections,
to figure out what smells stronger in the air.
seed preserved in ash,
suspended between not-yet-a-thing
and a relic of genetic technology
I am fine with the tomato that was engineered with salmon DNA
spare me the litigation
between life and rock
between toxins and intentions
between soil and soul
we tend to forget that fertilizer
was synthesized from nuclear fusion,
to create blueprints for drones, to write formulas for acidic perfume.
copy down the notes for how we fixed nitrogen in dirt
into the craters of an asteroid
the ionosphere warps
radio waves full of stories,
“Here We Are, Stranded Together”
sharpens the diameter of ‘other,’
your own borrowed patch of land
pressed into blank paper across eons
still not for the settlers mark
acres of grain
hollowed by the etymology of accident
‘towards a happening'
we are caught in a 12,000 year old machine,
agricultural mirrors reflect black glass
enter: the unlikely atelier of cabbage and plastic and fossil fuels
the chemical stories of weeds. concerning:
your own jurisdiction, inexhaustible harm
* Title comes from a quote by Nancy Campbell, Department Head in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, RPI