National Poetry Month: Stinging Nettles by Charles GoodrichApril 14, 2021 Stinging Nettles By Charles Goodrich Murky water in the slough, the oily sheen and bitter smell of herbicides and sewage. That deeper stink is the natural putridity of drowned fescue decaying anaerobically, and it rouses me like a whiff of sulphur from hell. I’m here for nettles, for a spring slumgullion of bitter herbs, and the edges of swampy ex-river bottoms are where to go with gloves on and rose snips. The osoberry bushes are leafing out beside heaps of broken concrete. Shattered green wine bottles wink among wild blue violets. Winter’s gunshot possum has vanished, but now here’s a rufous-sided towhee just back from Mexico. Cottonwood pollen floats in long swirls on the slack water. I sit on the muddy bank snapping twigs. They say nettles are richer in vitamins than spinach, but I’m not Popeye. I steam them for a homeopathic dose of poison. I may be chronically pissed off, but I’m a singer of praises, to the end, and I need those needles lining my throat.