From the foreword by Matthew Lippman: “Max McBride is a visionary poet. His series of poems, Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love and Death … grapples with the death of his wife. In these poems he takes the reader on the journey that his wife endured, and he with her, in her wrenching passage from life to death. … What he has created is astonishing. There is a humanity at the core of these pieces that shakes the reader to the bone. They are moving. They are elegiac. They are celebratory … they are the human heart in a singular and authentic voice. McBride’s poetry is … playful, intelligent, of the personal and the universal simultaneously … they are completely of us, for us, the world at large.”
(A browse upon page 39…)
(A Sparrow’s Fall)
And, so, what of your little death?
Just another sparrow’s fall?
No, I deny that, and proclaim here,
In the face of implacable destiny,
That your death was all of our deaths,
Past, present, future,
All of our tragedy and comedy,
All of our absurd plight.
Fruit fly destiny.
It was Infinity, not Oblivion, that you deserved.
Your tiny particular swallowed,
All of it.
You are, you become, you are no more.
Flecks of foam on the breaking wave.
This is the mystery of our existence
And its absurdity, its tragedy, its comedy too.
But the deeper answer to the deeper mystery remains
Unvouchsafed to me
Unsolved, though I seek every day, every moment
That sparkling buried grail
The only purpose, I have thought, of existence to obtain,
Humbly, gently, no longer a demand,
For the answer,
An arrogance I left behind long ago.
Only a glimmer and I would depart.
Not gladly, not gladly ever,
But at a bit of peace,
Knowing I achieved all my diminished capacity would provide.
And I do understand that it may, in fact, be
The most blindingly clear light
That I have been and ever shall be
Did I blind you too,
Over the course of all those skeptical years?
Why did you go before me?
How could that possibly be?
On your own death row, no chance of reprieve,
Did you in those last delirious days,
The cancer gnawing your hypoxic brain,
In delusion catch a ray,
That glimmer much prayed for,
But then left without telling me,
Left before I even knew you were leaving,
Harboring the secret,
Holding it tight to your breasts,
Under your bed cloak of deepest purple,
Wrapping you into Oblivion?
Like the priest of olden days,
Though now defrocked and unblessed,
I raise up and offer to all who consent to witness
The shining chalice of your sparrow life and death.
I loved you and I love you now.
At the end that’s all I know.
And also this—
We are, we become, we are no more.
(Tenebrae will soon be available at Amazon, and please visit Max’s website—www.max2themax.com—where you may purchase copies directly from the author.)