Bernadette McBride

2009 Poet Laureate

Bernadette McBride is author of three full-length poetry collections, Waiting for the Light to Change, Food, Wine, and Other Essential Considerations, and Whatever Measure of Light.

Among other honors, she won second place for the International Ray Bradbury Writing Award, was second runner-up for the Robert Fraser Poetry Award, and is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poems have appeared in the UK, in numerous U.S. journals and anthologies, and on PRI’s The Writers Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She has taught poetry and fiction writing at Temple University, currently teaches writing and literature at Bucks County Community College, and has served as a judge for the Charlotte Miller Simon Annual Poetry Competition and for the Student Poet Laureate competition for Temple University’s literary publication, Parable. She is poetry co-editor with Bill Wunder for the Philadelphia-based Schuylkill Valley Journal, and welcomes your visit at


An old man in a worn red parka lingers
in the north yard of the church

on the corner of 2nd and Main, his back
to the grit of traffic as he bows

toward a new-flowered tomb—modest
among an assembly of angels

made of stone. I watch him from my place
in the line of cars waiting for the light

to change. His white hair lifts in the wind,
thin strands standing upright, brushing pale

against a scrim of low, gathering clouds—
a feathery crown yearning toward heaven.

He is fixed in an invisible cocoon, wings
still curled; reverent hands folded

one over the other—chapeled away from us,
who, when the light goes green, will continue

to compete our ways home. Most
to be greeted by the living.