Katrina Kaye

They said it was
impregnable, but
we wandered in.
They left the portcullis raised
and cannon balls protruding.
We shuffled past
musket holes
and bow slits,
through the village,
towards the inner ward,
and into the keep.

We passed over with
an invader’s freedom.
We crept through it all,
sneaking into every crack,
like rats,
or lice.

We danced in the Great Hall
and raced to the top of the fortress walls.
From there we could see the
door they used to escape
when the siege broke and
the fires caught hold.

We passed the slick stones
and low ceilings of the jail.
Then crept up the narrow stairs
to the top of the tower.

We watched the Suir pushing around us.
We named a herring
that fished up stream
and for a moment
this was our world.

Then, like so many before us,
we were gone.

“Cahir” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfections (2009).


Katrina Kaye

inspired by 1984

A thrush
alight on bough
in the sun

spread wings
then flit them carefully
into place

duck head
an obeisance to the sky
then pour forth
a torrent of song

the bird shows
of its virtuosity
on and on
minute by minute

spread and resettle wings
swell speckled breast
burst again

for whom?
for what?

No mate,
no rival watches,
lonely wood
pouring song
into the nothingness

mixes with
sunlight filtered
through leaves

stop thinking
merely feel

“Birdsong” is previously published on Rabbits for Luck (2016).


Bath water

Katrina Kaye

She turns,
belly to porcelain,
white to white.
The bath water turns cold.

She hears him playing.
The gentle rhythm
of childish laughter,
echoing down the hall.
She shivers.

Her eyes turn inward.
With slippery fingers,
she grasps the side of the tub,
and sinks under water,
but still she can hear him.

Only an apparition come
to tease a lonely woman.
She never wanted much
other than to hear the sound
of her boy’s laughter.

Her hair halos her face
in a cloud of chestnut.
Just a sliver of nose and lips,
resting on the surface.

She sips in humid air.
The laughter evaporates.
Eyes open underwater,
The world is blurred.
The sounds of childhood

“Bath water” is previously published in A Scattering of Imperfections (2009).