My father returns from the farmers market
and tells me to wash the nettles for soup.
I ignore him and it is one hour later
I step into the kitchen.
On the table, nettles
are waiting unaffected.
Among the leaves, a tulip
he has brought for me
as an offering because I went
to the national olimpiadă for literature.
He doesn’t say so.
I pick the nettles,
shake them, tear the ends,
check them for straw and grit,
wash them in a large pot.
In the water, they wake up,
prickle, and sting. They smell
like iron and spring.
           The tulip is bursting,
petals cool to the touch
folded tight
half green, half yellow.
I am sixteen.

Lucia Cherciu is a Professor of English at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and she writes both in English and in Romanian. Her newest book of poetry, Edible Flowers, which was a finalist for the Eugene Paul Nassar Poetry Prize, was published in 2015 by Main Street Rag. Her other books of poetry are Lepădarea de Limbă (The Abandonment of Language), Editura Vinea 2009, and Altoiul Râsului (Grafted Laughter), Editura Brumar 2010. Her poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.