Nettles

We are not subtle,
although we blend, green
in the midst of green,

our sting, our poison
bating our green breath
with not a quiver.

Hiding in the green,
we remain unseen,
waiting pungently

for a patch of skin
a recipient
for our histamine;

we long to puncture
a scarlet tattoo,
stinging souvenirs.

Our hairy, toothy
leaves crowned with flowers
are ragged beauty

potently tempting
butterflies and moths
to our nursery.

The understory,
we are abundant
with seeds and rhizomes.

We are phoenixes
rising after fire,
strung like Roman beads

around the meadows.
Let us nourish you,
cover your bare skin,

keep you in good health.
We are wise women
sprung up from the earth.

Kim M. Russell, 26th November 2019

Nettles

My poem for dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Sylvia and Ted

I’m tending the bar at the dVerse Poets Pub this week with a challenge based on ‘Mushrooms’ by Sylvia Plath and ‘Thistles’ by Ted Hughes, written when the poets were still married. There are similarities, which you might expect from a couple who often worked closely together, and differences, which we might argue say much about them as individuals.

The challenge is to write a poem in the format and style of either Plath or Hughes. It must be about something that grows or multiplies and is in some way invasive. I chose to write about nettles in the style of Plath.

19 thoughts on “Nettles

  1. Great prompt and response to it, Kim, hope you’re feeling better. Both Sylvia and Ted could invoke the tooth in nature, feral for Hughes and mad for Plath. And nettles are a proper betwixt, soft and green yet hotly maddening. The collective “we” in this poem could easily identify as the two writing together with a collective bray turned dragonfire when turned against each other, but Plath got far more burned for her spite. The turn at the end is your own — those “wise women” — a way to enter that field of nettles still singing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hooray for nettles. I’ve loved them ever since reading that dear Eeyore liked to eat them. Discovering their medicinal properties only confirmed my instincts. “Scarlet tattoo” and “ragged beauty” remain vivid in my mind and i agree wholeheartedly that all wise women better have a “Sting” in their medicine bags. You may remember that “Sting ” was the name of Frodo’s dagger.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. we long to puncture
    a scarlet tattoo,
    stinging souvenirs.

    Oh man Kim. We had nettles all around our Oregon home in the Cascade foothills. I had many such scarlet tattoos. This was well written, and a great presentation of the essence of nettles.

    Liked by 1 person

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