After a scuffle, I emerge into morning.
As I struggle to wake, I can see that it’s stormy.
I draw back the curtain:
Raindrops abseil down the glass
Diminishing as they slither and pass
A security light flashes.
The Eucalyptus tree stands tall,
Casts windswept shadows on my bedroom wall,
A slide show, of sorts.
I pull the duvet up to my neck, stretch my legs,
Wallow in the cosy warmth of bed.
I savor the silence and empty stillness
Shortly to be diffused with the morning chorus.
It is already beginning:
Hot water pipes start to click and gurgle.
Milk bottles rattle their morning journey.
Time to move. I crawl over the lump to my right.
Creep downstairs, switch on the light.
Outside, black presses itself up close.
Rain drops squeeze, stretching as they slip.
Silver drops, drip, drip, drip…
I fill the kettle at the kitchen sink
and smile to see the puppy, Lucky
emerge from her kennel with brown whimpering eyes.
Soon she starts small, pleading cries.
I plug in the kettle, open the latch on the door.
She darts in between my legs, lies flat on her back
Spread eagled, paws up, looking for a tummy scratch.
I oblige her until she’s had her fill.
I light the gas fire, prepare lunch boxes.
A black cat leaps up on the windowsill
Her fur is drenched. I let her in
She leaps over the dishes draining
A second cat materializes, her coat is soaked
And glittering. I dry them both with an old tea cloth
The kitchen door opens, Caitlin appears in pjs and socks.
“Good morning, darling.”
“Morning, Mama. It’s cold. Is there snow?”
“No, it’s raining. The fire’s on.”
The girl curls up on the rug, and reads while she waits.
“Waffles for breakfast?” I offer
“Yes, please, and hot chocolate.”
Morning now is underway. People are stirring
I hear the neighbours adjacent unfurl
The kettle boils. The grill is on.
I go up-stairs with coffee for my sleeping spouse
Then slip into the warm bed of my son.
I wake him with gentle tickles and giggles
Return to the kitchen to make him toast.
The sounds of the house begin to grow
Children wash, dress, and pack for school
I organise train money, swimming bags, go over the daily schedule
Soon we are all outside, a kiss, a hug, we take different directions
Coats buttoned up tight to provide protection.
I wait, a stranger, on platform five for the train from Bray.
The branches of winter crisscross grey sky.
Seagulls swoop and call across the electric lines.
The hoardings advertise Smirnoff in the gloomy light.
The train trundles, yellow lit windows flash by.
Five carriages are wedged with shadows.
I sigh and wonder about the best place to stand.
I choose the end, against the connecting door.
I lean back and stare at the lapping shore.
Six hours, and I will be back at the school wall.
Waiting to pick up the children once more.
The open plan office is shelved high with paper
There is the constant hum of the ventilator,
Relentless ringing of phones, frustrated groans,
Incessant murmur of conversation,
I hear the occasional laugh through the flimsy partition
A one ended phone call, full of repetition.
I check emails, listen to messages, attend meetings
About further education. I keep an eye on the clock
Talk, muse, moan with colleagues
At 2pm it’s time to stop…and fly.
The afternoon is an avalanche of action.
I open the front door to the dog's mad abandon.
She piddles with excitement.
School bags are thrown on the floor;
Screams of delight, questions, the siblings fight.
White noise tumbles through the door
Whirrs around inciting more.
Shoes are kicked off. Pizzas thrown in the oven,
Potatoes scraped and baked in the microwave.
I switch the kettle on, make tea in the pot.
Children argue about what’s what.
Sunshine blazes through the window, remarking the dirt.
Tea is spilt. It puddles, spreads like oil. I wipe it off.
Lunch boxes are rooted out.
I search for notes in the pockets of coats,
Clean the table of crumbs to do homework,
Set out books, find the school project.
Chatter bounces, complaints mither
Accusations dart. There are
Rows about rulers, pencils and erasers.
I can’t help with the math teasers.
Finally, it’s finished
Books are cleared away, clothes are changed.
Children scatter…off to play.
Contented, I chop onions, cut meat, peel potatoes.
I hear the key in the lock and switch on the kettle.
A few words sort out the wheat from the chaff.
He begins to tidy. Picks up toys, puts them away
Washes the dishes, wipes my chopping mat
"I am using that."
At six o'clock he watches the news.
The children move back into my space.
Finally, the cooking produces the dinner.
I lay the table. We sit down, eat together
Chat over the day.
Later, we cuddle in front of the TV
Or we read on the couch. Or mess in the bath.
Go for a walk. The day is winding down.
Story time beckons.
In bed, I tell tales of witches and children
Force my tongue to stretch, mould words into stories.
Sometimes it hurts.
Words won’t flow.
After kisses, I slip into my own bed
Listen to the radio, float through the dark in a disparate sea.
I hear him downstairs on the phone, speak in an urgent tone.
His lips are stained red. He plots world revolution.
Meanwhile, my head sinks deep into the pillow. I sleep.
Outside the wind still blows.
Raindrops glide down the rattle of the window.
Atelier des Lumieres. Paris. 2018
(Workshop of Light)
Numbers unravel, dissolve into letters
expand into circles, dots, digits, and colour
Webbed wall ferns gradually unfold
Sparks of rain ignite telegraph poles
rotating cogs release women into clouds
ball gowns evolve on Dorian columns
Decorative paintings reveal pale pointed faces:
Caravaggio flays concrete floors,
depicts scenes of victory, rearing horses
Exposed women cavort with angels
sidle up walls, doors, and staircases.
Across our faces
Strauss roars stained glass and priests
Pink poppies, ghosts and ghouls.
Boys step in time. Boats sail in darkness
Floating lilies seed lines of scrawl
Abstract Klimt patterns the wall
Celtic birds breathe notes and stars
An eye emerges, slowly rotates
Gliding fish sprout blinking hands.
Sheets of drips reveal a veil of tears
Colour fades into darkness.
Lower Derries, Cavan
for Martin and Breda
The black lake swarms, ripples the edge of evening sky
Your garden teeters, green and grey
Wrapped in shawls, we sit outside
Nibble white cheese, fresh baked bread
Pickle our lips with nasturtium seeds
Bite into blood red tomatoes, hand-picked from the vine
A yellow cucumber is dressed in mustard and wine
We toast each other with homemade liquor
Beetroot and raspberry mixed with apple and pear
A course of wild pike smokes in black rising swirls
Cooked in a crooked branch of a fallen birch
You serve with home-grown potatoes, salt and garlic
The air mingles poetry with autumn spices
Kate Ennals is a prize-winning poet and writer and has published poems and short stories in a range of literary and on-line journals (Crannog, Skylight 47, Honest Ulsterman, The Moth, Anomaly, The International Lakeview Journal, Boyne Berries, North West Words, The Blue Nib, Dodging the Rain, The Ogham Stone, plus).In 2017, she won the Westport Arts Festival Poetry Competition. Her first collection of poetry At The Edge was published in 2015. Her second collection, Threads, was published in April 2018. She has lived in Ireland for 25 years and currently runs poetry and writing workshops in County Cavan. Kateruns At The Edge, Cavan, a literary reading evening, funded by the Cavan Arts Office. Before doing an MA in Writing at NUI Galway in 2012, Kate worked in UK local government and the Irish community sector for thirty years, supporting local groups to engage in local projects and initiatives. Her blog can be found at kateennals.com