Author's Note My poem was the winner of the 2019 Joseph Gahagan Irish Fest Poetry Contest. I wrote it for my mother and our neighborhood.
Erin go Bragh Whispered the Four-Leaf Clover
Our street was an undersized litter box with no modesty cover. Danny swung hand-over-hand across the electric wires connecting our house to the Slade’s. Walter Slade’s teenage scream cracked open the summer haze when I pushed my fingers into his whirring push mower, which bit sharp and splattered red jewels against the green smell of cut grass. I ran hard down the back alley until I could taste all the rusty blades of Lancaster’s east end. But I was the least impulsive kid around. My mother flipped her wig at the doctor who blamed her for Danny’s hot-dogging kicks all-day-long. It was his high IQ that made him so dumb. Like when he got the five-finger discount on the bent slinky from the Slade’s backyard and Mrs. Slade raged all afternoon until my mother lost it and accused her of being German. My mom, the self-proclaimed “Irish Slob of Integrity,” by which she meant her derangements were always on-point. Like when she marched up and down Clark Street beating a big bass drum after Mass that time when you stood up and said you didn’t see any point to men and why should you have to marry one? Mom will one day imagine herself a reincarnated Emily Dickenson—the part about keeping to her bedroom and speaking rarely, but with unexpected punctuation. She’ll say reincarnated too loudly into the screen of the confessional, causing the priest to give up darning his socks. So, Erin go Bragh, whispered the four-leaf clover, plucked from the small square of yard just ahead of Walter Slade’s mower.
©2020 Sylvia Cavanaugh
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