Debbie Lim – Honey Fungus to the Tree

Lim LE P&W August 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Special Australian Edition August 2023

Honey Fungus to the Tree, poems by Debbie Lim. 

Honey Fungus to the Tree


They were looking in the wrong places,
seeking a measurable shape: the silhouette

of a photogenic blue whale, the giant sequoia.
Not this—black fenceless thing, seeping

underground where no territories exist,
a bog of witchy bootlaces unravelling its

own edges, fingering for roots. They mistook
my face for the golden cluster of bells

I occasionally exhibit; sweet error of my name.
Now for you it’s too late. You should have

bent closer to home: that webbing spanned
beneath your skin, those tarred veins underfoot.

This slow and steady pulping of what was
once your wise old heart.

Note: The Armillaria fungus is arguably the largest living organism on Earth
with a specimen found in Oregon, USA, measuring 9.6 km

The Jellyfish

This town is full of jellyfish.
Swaying down the wide streets,
heads opening with brine,
they carry their organs like strange fruit.
Bearing parasols instead of hearts
they travel in great beating flocks,
holding only the vaguest of intentions.
One can hardly trust a jellyfish.
They converse so little and when they do,
their arguments are mostly opaque.
Always undulating. Their lack of a face
simply perturbs—and there are so many of them!
I will never understand the jellyfish.
All drift, no bone. Though pacifists
might say we share one clear wish in life:
to move and be moved.

© Debbie Lim

Debbie Lim’s poems have appeared regularly in the Best Australian Poems series and in Contemporary Asian Australian Poets, among numerous other anthologies and journals. She received the 2022 Bruce Dawe National Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the 2022 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Her chapbook is Beastly Eye (Vagabond Press), and she is completing a full-length collection. She was born in Sydney, where she lives on Darramuragal land.

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