Nettle Lexicon : Jean Atkin


                       i) nettle of the edgelands

So, the nettle dare – will you grip that hairy leaf?

Stand still and rigid for this ordeal

while they stand in a circle and watch your face?

                     ii) nettle of the dens

Sharp flare of white weals rising on your skin,

a dapple of pain you soothe to a green smear

of dockens. Scrub-leaf. In dock, out nettle.

                   iii)   nettle of the beds

Older, gloved and kneeling, you hang and draw the soil

for them, their creamy guts, the hoary coil and pack of them.

Them snapping, whipping back to test you.


                     iv) nettle of the gone

O how the nettles do grow behind us, markers

for our wiped-out villages, abandoned farms.

How rife they are in the lost places.

Jean Atkin’s new collection How Time is in Fields available from: