Hedera helix

This entry is part 3 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Ivy embrace

In this cemetery, the English ivy does all the work of grief, circling, knotting, twisting, persistent as a scavenger. It listens, a crowd of one, hanging on every engraved word. As vines reach the sky, their five-lobed leaves give way to a simpler shape, a sort of teardrop, & the umbels drip nectar. The fact that the berries are poisonous to humans is incidental, I’m sure, & the plant can’t help how invasive it’s become overseas, pulling down natives with no natural defenses against such clinging. Bindwood, they call it here. Lovestone. Grief’s greenest eraser, wearing holes in every last will & testament & scrawling in the breach its own cursive signature.

Series Navigation← Sacred Teachings of the Ancient VictoriansImport/Export →Boneyard Dogs →
Posted in

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Love this, Dave, gives me a bit more appreciation for this beautiful yet invasive vine that I’m forever pulling away from our trees.


  2. Informative and also beautiful. I just love the way you write. You have a visionary’s gift. I always leave Via Negativa better informed on all levels… not least the poetic… than when I came.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.