Oh let me wake where nettles are growing
in the cool first light of a spring morning
the young leaves shining after a night’s rain
a green radiance glistening through them
as their roots rise into their day’s color
a hue of sunlight out of the black earth
they made of their lives in the underworld
touching the darkness of their whole story
from which their leaves open to the morning
into a world they know and a season
they inherit let me wake where nettles
were always familiar and come and go
in the conversation their growth this year
compared with other years in the same places
the way they sting if barely brushed but not
if grasped firmly without hesitation
the best recipe for nettle soup with
new potatoes oh let the world’s sense
come to me from the spring leaves of nettles
my true elders and not from the voices
with something to sell nor from the spreading
scar tissue of pavement numbing the flayed earth
not from the last words of the fast talkers
to whom the nettle leaves never listen
This article is available to subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all articles published within the last five years.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.