NORTH CAROLINA L I T E R A R Y RE V I E W
FINALIST, ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE
Love – and Mushrooms and Zooms – In the Ruins BY CAROLINE RASH Rumor has it, the first living thing to emerge from Hiroshima’s blasted landscape was a matsutake mushroom. It was mid-March, remember? The New Year’s Eve champagne bubbles had long burst. I had just transitioned my ninth-grade English class to online learning. No more 5:30 a.m. alarms, but rather long hours staring at a computer screen, interspersed with terrifying transmissions from the White House Rose Garden. At first, we all had hope. On my laptop, I still have a folder labelled “Two Week Online Lesson Plans for Coronavirus.” In this strange space, I began reading about matsutake mushrooms. An offhand recommendation from a friend. I ordered The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins, a nearly three-hundred-
CAROLINE RASH’s poetry has been published in Connotation Press and an essay in Decider. She was a finalist in Peauxdunque Review's Words & Music Writing competition. She currently teaches high school English and is an Associate Editor for the South Carolina Review. She grew up between North and South Carolina and earned a BA in English Language and Literature from Clemson University and an MFA in Poetry from Rutgers University. The quilts featured throughout this essay were created by the author’s grandmother, Sue Holder Rash, of Boiling Springs, NC.