The Sting

The nettles had to go.
Six feet high in places.
Thick and lush and ranging in colour
from an absinthe green
to a deep grey myrtle.
They covered the path on three sides
between the deep pond and the hedges
making it impossible to walk round the edge.
The nettles would have to go.

I would leave a few drifts behind the trees
for the marauding butterflies, but otherwise
I would be ruthless with the rash invaders.
Clad in denim, long gloves and rubber boots
I pulled and tugged great handfuls from the ground,
grasping them low, a whole root system
would lift out of the earth, leaving bare soil.

Sweating and tired, it was a challenge
to clear the land and make it habitable
without enduring weals on arms and legs.
I thought I’d make a gravelled path
with ferns framing the edge, with snowdrops,
aconite, and later daffodils, beneath the trees.

Now all is done, in Spring a weave of colour
catches reflections of the early sun,
but every time I walk along the path
I find young nettles springing through the flowers,
asserting nature’s wilful, powerful ways.


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