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The boletes have raised

their skirt edges above their crowns,

high above the moss,

but close enough to smell soil,

which anchors withering pinesap,

enshrines groves

of agaric, deathcap, amanita alike,

the shadow-makers for rot,

for salamander,

for fallen blackgum leaf,

kicked from its mother branch

by sallying flycatcher,

stamped into the ground

by snorting deer,

gloss catching glow of turtlehead.

Joshua Ward is a senior at Virginia Tech, studying wildlife conservation and creative writing. He has spent his life fascinated by the natural world, and seeks to teach others about the beauty and significance of the outdoors through his writing, recounting his adventures in woods, rivers, coastlines, and our own backyards. When not writing, he can be found either watching a good Netflix documentary or outside enjoying his other major passions, wildlife photography and bird-watching. 

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