Thistles and things underfoot


they snap like dogs

at passing feet and dare

a killing frost to try.

Extending far beneath the soil,

their flowers masquerade

and jump to land a thump,

to multiply and spread

their spiny arms into the sky.

Ground ivy

tiptoes through the grass,

kisses passing bees

shakes its purple

seed head, sewing

patches beneath trees,

spreads its aromatic 

carpet, seeking solace 

in the shade, boasting

of its starring role

in beer, in tea 

and cheese.


spur shoots and dark barks

push ahead, scrambles

out of winter in a froth

all thorn and spike

all bitter white

all closely guarded fruit.


fling open

in a spray of yellow


for a feast,

offering luminous and generous

for us to see, 

to touch, to eat.

The nettles

are a troublesome friend.

They turn up uninvited,

settle in, proliferate,

tolerate the hot, the cold

and take the opportunity

to make themselves at home.

Prone to generosity,

they offer food,

will cure your woes

and even make some rope.

You may as well surrender,

let them stay,

look forward

to some soup.

The grass

Wavy hair grass, swarms of swaying manes,

sharing itself with the wall brown butterfly, the common sun beetle – they adore it!

It shakes its heads in shameless shows, opens its delicate purple clusters.

It doesn’t care who knows

it plans to procreate.

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Copyright: Janet Harper 2021