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
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 / www.treacleheart.com