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The Poet's Corner

Letting Go


When you napped in my arms,

the plump of your lips bearing a slick of milk,

your infant breath sweet as nostalgia,

I didn’t consider the pulling away.

I knew, of course, it would happen

based on all the evidence: children I’d babysat

turning up at the Gas-&-Go clinking car keys,

kid sisters and brothers posing in mortarboards.

But the heart is stubborn in its holding to those

who live there, to time — guards them like a eucharist

in a gilded tabernacle, to be opened

only by blessed hands; denies what it knows

for as long as it can: that for leaving is the reason

you’ve come, you trust me to show you how —

cheer your leading part, let go of the bike

as you coast away on your own. As I stand

mutely by, heart an open sanctum, its door gaping

in a perpetual posture of welcome.

— from Whatever Measure of Light, Bernadette McBride. Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press, 2016

Bernadette McBride, author of four poetry collections, served as poetry editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal. A Pennsylvania Poet Laureate for Bucks County, writing honors include the International Ray Bradbury Writing Award, second place winner, recognition in the U.K., Canada and on PRI’s The Writer’s Almanac, and three Pushcart Prize nominations.

Poet’s Corner is curated by Bucks County Poet Laureate Tom Mallouk and supported by a grant to the Bucks County Herald Foundation made possible by Marv and Dee Ann Woodall.

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