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Nettles Singing

by Caroline Davies

We used to be prized.
Like flax, our fibres made fine shirts.
We saved the swan brothers of Elise.
Willingly we gave our fresh leaves,
for the first spring soup.
We have not forgotten.

We still crave richness,
feed on dead bodies and manure.
Choose forgotten places and the dusty
corners of graveyards.

Send our yellow twisted roots deep.
Are hated by children, who we
revile with an equal fierceness.
Cannot see untouched skin
without wanting to spread
with a gentle sweep,
heat and redness, followed by white pustules.

Our stems are tough.
We practise the art of whip back
on those who choose
to cut us down.
Alert to the slightest inch of unguarded flesh.

We symbolise your decay
convert old buildings and waste ground
to verdant greenness,

We are vagabonds, the dispossessed.
Like rats, we will always be with you.
Though you slash and burn
A moment’s inattention
and we shall return.

Copyright © 2007 by Caroline Davies

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