My kinsmen, where have the mushrooms gone?
Where have all the mushrooms gone?
That sprouted in homestead and everywhere?
My kinsmen, where have the all mushrooms gone?
Lunkonakhisi that was the chief of all mushrooms
So broad was its canopy the wild goat often slept under it
Namutuyu, or tuyutuyu, of a red-brown hue
That shot up in battalions and squeezed together
As though in competition to exit the soil
Kamelele that prominently resembled the ears of the bat
And shivered upon sodden tree trunks in the jungle
Namataala that germinated in precincts of the kraal
Where animals had sweetened the soil with their dung
Nasiina that often was found upon the dunghill
Where the cattle dung had lost its heat
Mixed with refuse and converted into deep dark soil
Namasisye that sprung up in the field on spots of cowpat
That had disintegrated and sunk into soil
Nabitsikhi that happened upon random tree strumps
On the hillside just as in the plains
Bureesi that grew around the exalted rireesi anthill
In seasonal rhythm with the anthillÕs termites
Bumesi that thrived in the mountain chill
And whose soup was of sweetest flavour on earth!
Burunda of a light-brown hue that resembled
The sirunda anthill about which they raised their heads
Bumukele the smallest of mushrooms
White as cattle egrets, that materialized in myriads
And that you relished to the back of your head!
Namakhoosi that emerged beside the trodden footpath
As though anxious to be the first that you sighted.
Bukulumbuli that germinated upon the rolls of grass
Containing dregs of banana juice extract
That were thrown away into the banana garden
Bukendaani that came into your view any place
As though sympathetic to the poor that had no sauce
Bukusuma that had a fat navel like a rare damsel,
That appeared in twos, threes and fours
And their flesh felt so thick in your excited hand
Bulyasa of a white-black hue like bukusuma
Yet, unlike them, having no navel
And rose one at a time like a mother's only child
Namafura that had a glossy skin
And exuded oil like meet sizzling before the fire
Nabakooko the mushroom with a radiant aura
Like a virgin with tattoos on face and belly
Bungulumisye over which you threw a stick
And they panicked, ran and clang to each other!
To all those mushrooms must you add luisiri,
Whose slender and tall stalk you dropped down
Some yawning channel of rireesi anthill;
The ants dragged it to their procreation centre:
The constant seasons did their rhythmic rounds
From one rainy peak to the next rainy peak
The one random morning you stumbled upon
Buisiri mushrooms besieging the entire anthill
And you gasped in ecstatic wonderment!
My kinsmen, again I asked and you answer me
Where have all those mushrooms gone?
Timothy Wangusa (born 1942) Uganda