by Mahathi Mangipudi, Autumn 2019

Photos by John F. Williams, except where noted


By Mahathi Mangipudi Autumn 2019

Photos by John F. Williams except where noted


~ s p r i n g ~
fragile buds twist and turn,
bloom under warm rays of pastel gold
nutrients taken from underground
feed and nourish
building growing plants
life starts anew,
greenery misted with dew

~ a u t u m n ~
fiery reds and oranges
drift down slowly, under
whispering tendrils of wind

those nutrient rich leaves
mount and pile
caps grow,
and saprotrophs triumph
the reign of Boletes and Parasols
digesting and breaking down
bringing the nutrients back underground


delicate frills

rooted cultures

underground fungi

pungent flavors

rich delicacy

unique palate

yet still

part of

mother nature’s


Photo: public domain




I saw a sponge that was black with ruffles

Its weird shape and unknown identity led to kerfuffles

Tasty and pungent, despite growing underground

Overharvested to the point of no rebound

With exquisite flavor and delicate features we called them truffles

Mahathi Mangipudi is a junior at Interlake High School. She is a social activist, avid debater, and an environmental enthusiast. She represented the United States at the 2018 International Earth Science Olympiad in Thailand, where she earned a bronze and silver medals. She is pushing for local change towards a more sustainable community through the creation of the first Student Climate Action Plan. Mahathi is currently researching at the University of Washington on environmental issues. She teaches earth science and biology to elementary and middle schoolers through a non-profit organization. She also teaches local elementary school students about the importance of environmental conservation. She loves writing spoken words and has performed her work at various conferences.  Mahathi monitors local streams and restores habitats through a local environmental organization. When she isn’t advocating for environmental sustainability, Mahathi can be found hiking, swimming, writing poetry and singing in a community choir. 



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