‘The Road Taken’ and other poems by Kate Ennals



Before she was mine
she drank red wine and spirits
With class, in Egypt and Paris
An educated forties woman
From Wales, aquiline nose, my brother’s eyes
Stylish in scarves, tight belt, full skirts,
Intelligent. Conversation, politics.
A woman of intellect. Studious, serious
She pursued kingdoms of change

But with each revolution comes sex
And she became history. Mine
Look, here I come.
Cuckoo, cuckoo
Before I arrived, my mother was beautiful.


After Alvy Carragher’s ‘Mother’

I have just read a poem:
‘Mother’ By Alvy Carragher
over and over:
You said it was love at first sight

Mother, I don’t recall you saying that
On this couch where I now lie
where, as a child, I snuggled into your woven threads
of bosom and breath

The words, ‘I love you’? No
I would remember
Though I heard the scream
you held at arm’s length
Its tentacles tangled in our threaded embrace.



I come home from time to time
Motionless, I stand, glide down
Steel de-escalates underfoot
My eyes swivel, theatre bound
Air loses fresh, swoops up my nose
At the bottom, I step South,
Into tunnel, crowned blue and white
Ridged platform, yellow line
A rubbery wind shoots the breeze
My instincts bristle, on the rise
I guess the space where carriage will stop
Tube swoops in
My choice is good. Doors
Wheeze, release heaving crowd
cheek by jowel, shoulder, hip
I stand back, then
Squeeze and shove, shift as one
Teeter, grab a well sprung coil
We shunt and start
a broad church in communal lurch
a rhythm of common
I count the stations
Watch eyes doze, upright
Bodies twitch to ear plugged notes
Approaching, I crab, slide and twist
Mind the Gap
Turn right
Keep Left
Queue to tread and escalate
Inhale the light, sirens, petrol
flash an oyster, stride away
reassured of my DNA.


Lower Derries, Cavan

for Martin and Breda

The lake swarms, teeters the edge of evening shore
Low, the garden sky seethes, yellow and grey. Still,
We sit outside, nibble blue and white cheese
Pickle our lips with nasturtium seeds
Bite into blood red tomatoes, hand-picked from the vine
A yellow cucumber dressed in mustard and wine
Toast each other with homemade liquor
Beetroot and raspberry mixed with apple and pear
I settle on orange and elder flower
A course of wild pike smokes in black rising swirls
Cooked in a fresh branch of a fallen birch
Served with home-grown potatoes served with garlic
We chat of poetry and autumn spices.



in response to Seamus Heaney’s ‘Post Script’
At risk of turning this into an ad for Ireland
You may want to travel to County Cavan
For there the wind is always up
With fierce intent, blowing spores of bloodied rock
Drenched in storm and moonlight
The place is a palimpsest of history
Legend layered on leaps of myth
Grey, slate skies reigned by crows and ravens
Caws of silence on black scrawny wings
No ocean glitters, there is no flaggy shore
But there are giants, Lugh and Lag
Who jumped a gorge in the name of love
And left a chasm, a land of relicts
tossed with glacial erratics
a carbuncle of a fossil. Rooted and ancient
You will feel rather than see Cuilche loom
A cannon of earth spraying bullets of cloud
It shoulders the head of the North, tempers the South
From where craggy rivulets of pale faces stare
scattered amongst the raggy sheep
seeking refuge behind old crannogs
Piles of stones
The flesh of the land is weak, porous
lime mixed with water
Its heathery purple blood floods lakes that rise
Where ghosts ascend in morning mists
Stride, muttering, into dark pine forests
The limestone rock provides not a glint of warmth
Trees grasp and clutch at bare knuckled earth
Expose neolithic tombs, funereal monuments
They too catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

The Road Taken

It was dark as we crossed the cattle grid, pulled up the Barrack 
Hill, down the other side, 
around the mini roundabout, drove the N3 out of Cavan, Virginia, 
Kells, Navan, Dublin

Spiralling the short-term parking, coming to a stop at the top, 
and flying. Then travellating 
to the station. The train stopped at Manchester Piccadilly, a 
fret of ornate iron and glass

Suspended; industrial, opaque, white bulbs hang in the gloom of 
winter gloam. Groaning 
with Northern Asia, Derbyshire, an English winter 

   Red stone     red brick  red stone	  red brick	  red stone
Rows of town, city suburbs: Hawkeswood, Stockport, Hazelcroft and 
the Price is Right. 
We disappear into banks of soil and tunnel. Black electric light 
blasts into heaving peaks of green, velvet brown

Soft to touch, sloping down. In the sky, a lisp of blue in leaden 
grey, a flash of Hope, followed by a thrumming cab, 
to a Sheffield HOME of blue uniforms, snug around a bosom 
of pinned identity. 

My mother in law’s tiny marbled legs attached to a nappy, a bib 
and tucker. A baby mother. 
A soft face slack with grace, a momentary greed of interest, 
forgotten in seconds…
                    then repeated. 

Over again. Again. Soon, she tires of not remembering. I go on. 
Travelling on a train, to London. 
The carriage lights are dim. There are clicks of zips. 
Creaks of bags. Whispers of coats taken off

folded. Murmur of pale blue light. Rain squeezes drops down 
the window pane. I snuggle down in the interim for the linger of 
journey, the in-between. Chesterfield, Derby, Leicester,
St Pancras. 

I walk the marble floor that lays the way to Paris, passing 
cocktail bars, sumptuous shops, silver, gold, chains, 
and jewels, glamorous hair, bags and suits, leather, 
barrels of wine


I wade through a tube of Londoners: a commuter, a son, a daughter, 
an old man, a student, a worker, a patient, a brother, a sister, 
an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, an only child, a father

to you, mother: old woman, bright beads for eyes, swaddled in 
pads and yellow rage, hunched,
slumped, lost for words, waiting. I take off my coat, sit down. 
You are my destination.

The Road Taken and other poems © Kate Ennals

Kate Ennals is a poet and writer and has published material in a range of literary and online journals (Crannog, Skylight 47, Honest Ulsterman, Anomaly, The International Lakeview Journal, Boyne Berries, North West Words, The Blue Nib, Dodging the Rain plus many more). Her first collection of poetry At The Edge was published in 2015. Her second collection comes in 2018. In 2017, she won the Westport Arts Festival Poetry Competition. She has lived in Ireland for 25 years and currently runs poetry and writing workshops in County Cavan, and organises 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.

Φ kateennals.com 

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