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7| Unless Thou Get a Son

Ed Madden


My dad was god, got up with dawn to start
the day. His word was firm, his hand, too,
on my shoulder, his love. Those days, we stopped
our work for lunch sometime after noon,
men and boys around my grandma‚Äôs table —
ham and beans, tomatoes, tea, the sun
leaned in the window. Summer days
grew long, longer, the work went well past dusk.
The heat never broke despite the dark.
Tractor lights burned red and white, made laps
across the field. I watched for the truck
coming down the rows to pick me up —
my dad, my brother, some hired hands, a water
jug, and after, the long ride home together.

Ed Madden is an associate professor of English and director of Women's and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina. He is author of three books of poetry: Signals, which won the SC Poetry Book Prize; Prodigal: Variations; and Nest. His poems appear in Best New Poets 2007, The Book of Irish American Poetry, and Collective Brightness. He is also the author of the chapbook My Father's House, a sequence of poems based on the time he spent helping with his dying father's home hospice care.

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