Nettles

We shut them out.
Everywhere they rear their ugly heads.
We cannot escape
the eyes, lined along each stinging hair.

One touch is all it took
for them to make me theirs, one sting
upon a thoughtless finger…

For their force surrounded me, made for me
a burning bed
and laid me down in it, my flesh dissolving
until I danced amidst
their company, wore new eyes upon my skin
and left with leaves
that glimmered in a purer rain.

Now when I close
my eyes they are still parading there,
moving through
my mind, hostile yet necessary.

Nettles, GCV

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9 thoughts on “Nettles

  1. Fun facts – they are great made into a “nettlekopita” (like the Greek spanakopita) and are one of the highest protein wild plants there is, their sting disappearing with steaming. And the hearty Russians use them in the sauna to increase their blood flow for cleansing 😉

      1. its absolutely delicious, but probably fattening with the butter and flaky dough. Bet you can’t eat just one piece, lol. It can be used anywhere you would use spinach, like in a lasagna too. Vicki picks and blanches it and freezes it to use all year.

  2. Russians also eat the very first spring ones, they dont sting then and make a lovely salad.
    Poor ugly-duckling-nettles, disliked by so many 🙂

  3. Have you ever picked a nettle? I used to pick them when I was a kid – it tended to discourage would-be bullies… You have to grasp them quickly and decisively (hence the phrase “grasping the nettle”) so that the hairs break before they have a chance to pierce your skin.

    Nettles are one of my favourite plants of all. They’re so rich in traditional uses and folkloric significance, both good and bad. I keep thinking of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of the Wild Swans, in which the sister has to weave coats of nettle flax without uttering a sound. And, of course, Edward Thomas’s gentle poem, Tall Nettles. I think your poem is a wonderful contribution to this lore.

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