Matthew Spira
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Matthew Spira

This is an email from Matthew Spira's Poetry, a newsletter by Matthew Spira.

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash

MRS. CALLAHAN AND THE FOUR-LEAF CLOVER

Mom and Dad, grim expressions
come through the door.
Faith runs up to them, drawing in hand
Look, we saw a rainbow! Look at
what I made! Dad gives her drawing
a quick glance before handing it back
hangs his jacket. Goes upstairs.
Seeing Faith’s hurt expression
Mom takes her time
looking at the drawing.
That’s a very pretty picture honey.
We’ll have to get a frame to hang it up.
What’s that wonderful smell?
We’re making dinner.
Mrs. Callahan, Ethan and me.
Ethan?

Mrs. Callahan deftly tends
to the stovetop and oven
Ethan carries dishes
into the dining room.
Faith leads Mom into the kitchen
I made the salad, see?
Mom looks around in amazement
especially at Ethan’s enthusiasm.
Mrs. Callahan reaches into the
oven, pulls out a pan of
freshly baked biscuits.
This really wasn’t necessary.
No trouble at all. We had fun.
Hope you’re hungry.
Go get your father.

Faith, returning to the kitchen
stops at the door.
Mom leans against the counter.
— I’m so sorry the news
from the bank wasn’t good.
Mom wipes her eyes.
Times are tough all around.
Mrs. Callahan puts the biscuits
in a wicker bowl.
Faith scampers out of the way
as the kitchen door opens.

Mrs. Callahan puts on her parka
Faith stands in the doorway
of the dining room
You’re not staying for dinner?
Oh no, dear. My husband doesn’t
like to eat alone.
You’re not coming back, are you?
No, sweetie, I’m not. I did
have a wonderful day today
with you and Ethan.
Faith casts her eyes at the floor.
Mrs. Callahan reaches into
her purse, pulls out a small book.
Opens it, carefully lifts out
a four-leaf clover.
This is for you.
She shows it to Faith.
What is it?
It’s a four-leaf clover.
They’re very special.
Really?
Mom comes into the foyer
with her checkbook.
You see, each leaflet represents
something very important.
The first is ’faith.’
Faith smiles at her mother
at the mention of her name.
Mom moves closer to look.
The second is ’hope.’ The third
is ’love.’ And the fourth leaflet
the one that makes
the four-leaf clover so special
is ’luck.’
We Irish believe in luck,
especially when you have
the other three working together.
Mrs. Callahan gives
the four-leaf clover
to Faith, who looks carefully
at each leaflet. Shows it to Mom.
This one is me!
Mom smiles at both
Faith and Mrs. Callahan.
Good luck to you, Miss Faith.
To you as well, Sarah
Ethan comes down
the stairs two at a time.
Bye! Runs into the dining room.
Ethan, look! Faith yells.
A four-leaf clover!
She chases after him.
And your entire family.
Oh, I forgot my pen.
Mom goes to get one
when she returns
Mrs. Callahan is gone.

Ethan heaps food on his plate
Dad reaches for the biscuits
Mom puts away her checkbook
sits next to her husband
Faith, clover in hand
runs to the window
Mrs. Callahan nowhere
to be seen.

Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

THE END OF THE RAINBOW

Dear Ethan and Faith:

FAITH
As Mrs. Callahan says
the four-leaf clover
is very special
each leaflet representing
something important.
The first is ‘faith’
the second ‘hope’
the third ‘love’
and the fourth
the magical fourth leaflet
is ‘luck’
which is what you have
when the first three
work together.
What I conceived
when I started to try to tell
the fairy tale of a family in crisis
and of two children who
in order to save their home
go into the woods in search
of the pot of gold
at the end of the rainbow
is a story grounded
in our story
as that family in crisis.
The truth of what they found
is an expression
of my deepest beliefs
what has become
the meaning of my life
it is my story
our story
your story
of what happens
when faith
hope
love
and luck
work together in our lives.
It is what I want you both to find
at the ends of your rainbows.

HOPE
The inciting event
is the daughter overhearing her parents
arguing about money
worried
about losing the family home
she thinks it’s her fault
because as her father said
it was her medical expenses
that put them into insurmountable debt.
That is fiction.
Grounded in the truth
your mother and I
just could not stop arguing
over money
and the deeper truth of two
fundamentally incompatible people.
You were trapped
in the middle of it
even when you stood between us
arms raised out
four years old
yelling “Stop fighting!”
But we couldn’t.
We wouldn’t.
To call it “fighting”
sounds tame.
It was war
brutal, grinding
for years building up
we just couldn’t stop
your mother and I
going after each other
over and over again
in escalating ways
I couldn’t believe
were really happening
I am so sorry.
For all of it.
My hope
is what we build
now in the present
everyday and
towards the future
your futures.

LOVE
What I am about to say
is about unconditional love
but not
unconditional circumstances.
When I abandoned you
when I was at my lowest point
when I left
without saying goodbye
and I felt all was lost
that I would never see you again
because of what was building
poisonous
vicious
a breaking point coming
I started to believe
we would end up
hurt
or dead
or in prison
or
all of the above.
I woke up
in almost a fugue state
(but not. I was aware
of the choices being made.)
boarded a train
to the airport
bought a one-way ticket
Thirty hours later
I picked up a phone
called your aunt.
“Matt!
Where the fuck
are you?”
“Um… LA. I’ve got
$700 in my pocket
no idea
what I’m doing next.”
“Call me back in 30 minutes
Okay? Call me in 30 minutes?”
“Okay.”
35 minutes later:
“You’re coming here.”
Your aunt and grandparents
gave me not an end
but a starting point
for what happened next
which perhaps is the most
unbelievable part of all.

LUCK
I’ve struggled
with this section
how to explain
how you got
from there
to here
from her
to me.
But you did.
It very easily
could have gone differently
at so many different stages
over the years
but it didn’t.
And now
it’s going to take hard work
(for all of us)
but you have
the chance
to be
healthy and happy
in whatever
you choose to do
in whoever
you choose to be.

FAMILY
Faith
hope
love
luck…
The end of the rainbow
is
us
is
you.
That’s all
that matters.

Love,
Dad

If you enjoyed the poems, please check out more of my poetry at Matthew Spira’s Poetry. My first collection, The End of the Rainbow, on sale now. Thank you for reading!

ABOUT MATTHEW SPIRA’S POETRY
My publication contains my poetry and stories. I tend to focus more on people than things, but I write about a wide variety of topics and moods. I am especially interested in the military/veteran experience, (single) parenting, and the bemusement of middle age.

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Matthew Spira

Just a middle-aged dude doing middle-aged things. Poetry repository: matthewspira.org. 1st collection, The End of the Rainbow, on sale: http://amzn.to/32Kkt3d