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.