NETTLEMOUTH

By Rachel McCarren

County Leitrim, IE, circa 1850

The house is cold.
The blankets, stiff
I hear the baby cry. 
I go to the stove, stoke it up,
Add what scrap wood I can find.
I take the baby from the cradle,
slant the bones of my back
against the wicker rocker spine.
Yellow-green light shines
through the window
from the fields far behind.
Through the glass, I watch the mist twist
like wraiths’ wrists through the forest.
The fog is thick. My skin is thin.
I try to feed the baby, 
but my arms buckle
when I try to help him suckle. I think, 
the nettle-weed behind my home,
their tincture is but mild.
I’ll boil them with honey, sugar,
and some whiskey for the child.


Rachel McCarren‘s poetry has appeared in The Honest Ulsterman, Lupercalia Press’s debut anthology Vulcanalia, Anti-Heroin Chic Mag, The Unexposed Mag, and more. During her MFA at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA, Rachel studied summers at Trinity College Dublin in IE. Rachel is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA, but she plans to permanently relocate to Ireland with her Irish partner within the next year.

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