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  You could have a big dipper   

Ivy by HLR

CW: Death, grief

I bought 10ft of artificial ivy once

off t’internet / for pennies

part of the Poison Ivy costume I was making

to wear at a Hallowe’en party.

(I didn’t go to the party

in the end – I hung out

with you that night instead).

The ivy remained / coiled

up in its plastic bag. I hung on

to it though, certain

I’d find another use for it / planning to make art

of it but it just collected


alongside all my other great ideas.

A year passed and I relocated. Having to

declutter / still unable to find a use

for the ivy at my new house, I binned it / scolding myself

for wasting £2.89. Then I walked to your place

and we watched University Challenge.

You failed to answer a single question.

You were catatonic / barely said a word. You were not my Dad,

you were a skeleton / bobbing in a sea of morphine.

I hoped that you’d be better after some sleep.

You always got better.

Three weeks later I was standing in front of your coffin.

It was decorated with ivy vines / wrapped around the wicker

handles / around the edges. I touched the leaves: it was real

ivy. I said to mother, “How much did that ivy cost us?” and she said £90.

I laughed incredulously. “You do know the ivy’s going

in the oven with him, right? You are quite literally burning

our money.” She told me to stop

being difficult.

You would’ve been horrified to know

she’d wasted £90 on ivy. (That’s £90 of booze we’d never get

to drink at your funeral). Then, as I kissed your casket

goodbye / for the last time

you asked me telepathically through the lid,

“Hey, where’s all that artificial ivy you couldn’t find a use for?”

and I realised that was your last bit

of advice to me:

what we lack in finances we make up for in ideas, and what we lack in assets and material possessions we more than make up for in mind and soul, so stay creative, remain humble and keep on keeping on.

And, for God’s sake, don’t let your mother make any more decisions.


HLR (she/her) is the author of collection History of Present Complaint (Close to the Bone) and Portrait of the Poet as a Hot Mess (Ghost City Press). She lives in north London, where she was born and raised. Twitter: @HLRwriter /

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