Yesterday’s post on the potential revival of ice age creatures unearthed from the tundra’s melting permafrost is what made me aware of The Siberian Times, which seemed like an excellent addition to my small collection of regularly visited sites. It was here that I learned of the mushroom people, which happened to be very shortly after I learned it was Shel Silverstein’s birthday, and found myself reminiscing about laughing with my daughter over pages in Where the Sidewalk Ends and other volumes, his brilliant sense of delight in wonder and dark humor, the electric hilarity of morbid details delivered in singsong (“I’m being eaten by a Boa Constrictor/ And I don’t like it one bit… Oh gee, it’s up to my knee. . . Oh heck, it’s up to my neck . . .”). So, when I read the article about the mushroom people, it is only natural that I heard it as follows:
The reindeer are crossing the river, and dogs are out chasing a bear.
We drew them above the cold sea, with the wind and the salt in our hair.
Who were these artists, these dreamers up there––
so far away from any known where?
Bearded men rubbing away at their their faces,
with bald-faced ones wishing they’d sooner found traces
of places where no beards were looking,
and no one was daring to tread.
We dance in these paintings, large mushrooms on heads.
The music is gone now, and we are all dead.
We had stems for our legs, and mushrooms for hair,
but as for our music, they heard it nowhere.
And that was our joke, how nobody knew
anything of us or what we could do.
When you cross over, the music invites you to dance,
with winds on the tundra, in leaves of those plants.
And no one is there, recording a show;
few stories on record, and little to know.
This is bad for museums, but what was it to them?
For the living, the point is to dance to the end.