The Common Good
April 2008


by Ed Madden | April 2008

beginning with four lines from Taha Muhammad Ali

If, over this world, there’s a ruler
who holds in his hand bestowal and seizure,
I turn in prayer, asking him
to decree for the hour of my demise
that it be a morning on Lake Keowee,
in early spring when the bloodroot
and yellow violet are in bloom in the woods
beyond us, a ghost of fog moving slowly,
almost imperceptibly, across the grey water.
And I ask that it be after a long trip,
after I have seen my grandmother, my brother,
after I have looked upon the face of a niece
I’ve never seen, after I have said to my father
what I need to say to my father, whatever
that may be then, and on that morning on the lake,
may I be on the dock with my beloved,
tossing bits of biscuit to the fish, rising
from the green depths like memories—and
across the lake the sound of two geese
calling to one another

Ed Madden, author of Signals (2008), is writer in residence
at the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina.

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