Among the Brambles

This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Brambly grave

Working through a black-
berry patch, you learn
a new way to move, step
high & slow as a heron,
pivot to trample back-
wards in your big boots,
& lean nimble as a lover
into the fiercest thorns
to get free. These are
not skills of widespread
applicability. But one
day when the sweat dries
& the mosquito’s skirl
dwindles to a soft wind
in the inner ear, you may
find yourself stretching,
stretching, stretching for
that last sweet berry
& wondering why in hell
your hand won’t move.

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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. Oh, it took me a sec. This is a great poem, Dave. “a soft wind in the inner ear” — !


    1. Dale, I was concerned this poem might be a bit too subtle or low-key for online readers, but in your case obviously I’d no need to worry. Thanks.


  2. Stretching for the last sweet berry, but the hand won’t move…Palpable irony. A dead lad is dead as dead can be. Subtle, indeed. Liked it.


  3. Like the picture and the poem both–apt and interesting conjunction. Well, they were black, weren’t they?

    I see you moving there, too, tall and stalky. This is not a short woman’s poem, it is a tall Dave’s poem!


    1. Marly, that photo like the others in this series was taken at London’s Highgate Cemetery, but I believe those are some sort of rubus — I’m not sure of the species. My mom (who’s also fairly tall) actually does the majority of blackberry picking these days, though I did contribute six quarts of wineberries the other night. I was thankful for blue jeans despite the heat — they are ideal for wading through briar patches.


    1. Thanks, Luisa. I was mentally high-fiving myself when I thought of “skirl” there!


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