My Father’s House. Number Four in Volume Two of our Editor’s Series, and runner-up for the 2011 Robin Becker Chapbook Prize.
Cover painting: “Coming to Terms” by Lee Monts.
Release date: April 21, 2013 [150 copies]
Ed Madden is the author of Signals, which won the 2007 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, Nest (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), and, most recently, Prodigal: Variations (Lethe Press, 2011). Madden is an associate professor of English and director of the undergraduate program in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best New Poets 2007, Best Gay Poetry 2008, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Notre Dame), and The Southern Poetry Anthology: South Carolina (Texas Review Press).
We ask each day what you’re hungry for,
try Loretta’s roast, some chicken, corn
and peas. A few bites, you’re through, unless
we say there’s cake. Mom kept ice cream
in the hospital fridge; now everyone brings
things we know you’ll eat–Betty’s coconut
pie or Ronda’s lemon icebox, Aunt Elaine’s
strawberry cake (its icing a thick sludge
of butter, strawberries, sugar, cream cheese).
Uncle Ken drops by with fried pies
from M.J.’s, says he knows you like the peach.
When the apples we’d overbought were going
bad, Suzanne stopped by with a recipe for easy
apple dumplings and stuff to make it, crescent
rolls, sugar, a can of Mountain Dew–
Mom pops the top, pours it over
the whole pan of wrapped and sugared apples
when she’s through, slides it in the oven.
We sneak Miralax in your morning oatmeal,
where you don’t taste it. We tried to hide
laxative in your Mountain Dew, but you knew
it was there, and now stare, knowing,
suspicious if we bring you anything
to drink–you think we’ve done it again.
On TV we see people losing homes,
roads closed, rivers flooding, a tornado
somewhere, near–but no one cares, it seems,
when there’s the sweet froth of a royal wedding.
My first day back, you asked about “your mate,”
referred to Romans 1, but dropped it when Mom
came back into the room, and now we’ve settled
into something new–not easy, but less
of all that stuff about choice and sin,
the how and when of why we didn’t talk
for so long back then. I sit beside the bed,
we eat apple dumplings watch TV,
saying nothing, just eating something easy.