Lichen was inspired by the following poem.
SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES, LICHEN By Lew Welch All these years I overlooked them in the racket of the rest, this symbiotic splash of plant and fungus feeding on rock, on sun, a little moisture, air — tiny acid-factories dissolving salt from living rocks and eating them. Here they are, blooming! Trail rock, talus and scree, all dusted with it: rust, ivory, brilliant yellow-green, and cliffs like murals! Huge panels streaked and patched, quietly with shooting-stars and lupine at the base. Closer, with the glass, a city of cups! Clumps of mushrooms and where do the plants begin? Why are they doing this? In this big sky and all around me peaks & the melting glaciers, why am I made to kneel and peer at Tiny? These are the stamps of the final envelope. How can the poisons reach them? In such thin air, how can they care for the loss of a million breaths? What, possibly, could make their ground more bare? Let it all die. The hushed globe will wait and wait for what is now so small and slow to open it again. As now, indeed, it opens it again, this scentless velvet, crumbler-of-the-rocks, this Lichen! Lew Welch, “[I Saw Myself]” from Ring of Bone: Collected Poems of Lew Welch. Copyright © 2012 by Lew Welch.