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by Margaret Sheppard


Ivy and I go back a long way
I knew her when she was young and tender
and she started to climb my favourite oak
She was faithful and hung on tightly
For years she embraced him lovingly
surreptitiously growing when no-one was looking
and slyly insinuating her tendrils into his trunk

She always wore green and covered herself in shining glory
As a youngster she adorned herself with three-lobed juvenile leaves
But as she matured they became smooth-edged
and she produced flowers which turned to berries
People loved her for her kindness to the honey bees
when most other plants were preparing for winter.
She discreetly dropped her used brown leaves
and generously harboured a myriad insects
And no-one noticed her relentless rise to the upper branches

A decade of my suspicious vigilance
saw her steal warily along some branches
and strengthen her grip on the main trunk
vying with it to be a tree herself with her muscular coils
She took advantage of the tree's kindness
Until finally she enveloped every branch

The oak's silent gasping for light and air
went unobserved as did his drying bark

Another decade passed
Ivy's head rose triumphantly in a canopy of dense vines
offering a sail to the prevailing winds.
One stormy night a gale caught her mantle
and bent it till the wet ground yielded
and the bole of the oak slowly emerged as a large mound
the ends of the roots snapping under the strain

My great friend fell but Ivy lives on unperturbed

By kind permission of Margaret Sheppard ©2019
photo taken at the coast path Eastcliff Park 2017

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