Electric EDGE
Web Edition of
The Ragged Edge
July/August 1997

Electric Edge

We publish the following in tribute to disabled poet Susan McBride, who died last November. Ms. McBride's work appeared in The Disability Rag and Kaleidoscope.

Entropy and Angels

This relentless caving-in to time,
to gravity --a hand become a hook --
is not laughable
but like laughter stifled:
the first church pew giggle
held and held
until a donkey bray explosion
ripples chalice wine.

My God, this growing old is serious.
Soon, the collection plate
will come up empty
and this system called Susan
will squawk to a full stop
like an old organ on the last note
of some glass shattering fugue.

Soon, the angels say, but not yet.
They are merciless in doling out days. They treat me
no better than Pavlov's dog
to candy after the bell.
Today my body is bent to pain.
I cry knives, and they send me
a naked man on the hillside outside my window
who leans against a madrone
in full lemon sun.

There is no turning back
or going forward.
That is the terrible joke.
There is always a child
who cannot be solemn in church
and spears of morning light
dazzling the green eyes of stained-glass saints.

--Susan McBride

Range of Motion

Longing to be articulate
stiff in its bark of muscle, tendon and skin
your skeleton turns toward the tree
toward what light there is,
thick and yellow
where Pacific fog
scrubs an arthritic oak
always outside the window.

Stand to daybreak.
Stretch each body part to the point of pain
then beyond--
beyond familiar bonecrack
clear to sparrow song through brittle leaves,
a leap of blue sky,
an old cock's crow
and squealing brakes
on an unseen road East of the empty river.

Assailing morning air
this is today's arena,
straining flesh on taut white bone--
a tree, that window, one road, this small room --
these ambient borders of beauty and pain
where cats cruise the ankles and
freedom is its own circumference.

--Susan McBride


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