2009 Poet Laureate
Bernadette McBride, poetry editor for the Philadelphia-based Schuylkill Valley Journal, is author of four full-length poetry collections: Waiting for the Light to Change (WordTech Press, 2013), and from Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press: Food, Wine, and Other Essential Considerations (2014), Whatever Measure of Light (2016), and Everything Counts (2019). A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she won second place for the International Ray Bradbury Writing Award. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the UK, Canada, and on PRI’s The Writer’s Almanac. She taught literature and both poetry and fiction writing at Temple University for many years, currently teaches writing and literature at Bucks County Community College, and has served as a judge for the Charlotte Miller Simon Annual Poetry Competition, Main Street Voices Poetry Award, and for the Student Poet Laureate competition for Temple University’s literary publication, Parable. She welcomes your visit at bernadettemcbridepoetry.com.
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.