Last Wishes: 2010 Foley Prize Winner

When I go to leave this world, how do I
take with me the grace it held out, it held
onto, when I go, that momentary grace
I caught now and again as I’d look up,
look out? Once, late afternoon, a March wind
swaying the elm, the shadows Matisse’s

blue cut-outs, thighs thick as limbs dancing
over the rumpled snow on such delicate
pointed feet. Once, columns of snow swirling
across my pond and I saw stampeding
horses, saw again those sheep outside Dingle,
a dog driving them, left then right, lower

Advertisement

to upper field. When I go, that streaming once
more mine. Or when I go, the sudden rising
of hundreds of swallows banking as one,
then banking again. That nearly closed arc
of an Arctic tern’s wing turning in flight.
When, when to the next wherever I’m going—

mound, mountain, lap of God—let my leaving
be its own imprint of grace: the eagle
I once saw drift down over a river,
extend its talons, graze the water, and lift.
The imprint of that long, slow swoop—what’s first
and last remembered when I go. Then, only then,
the shock of it: prize fish taken out of its world.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Lay oversight of Catholic bishops is needed—but it should be a process that respects the principle of apostolic succession while providing a check on the successors of the apostles.
John GarveyFebruary 22, 2019
Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, president of Bellarmine University, Patrick Hart, O.C.S.O., and Archbishop Thomas Kelly during the ceremony at which Brother Hart received an honorary degree from Bellarmine University on May 10, 2003. (Courtesy of Bellarmine University)
For decades, Patrick Hart was the literary executor of Thomas Merton's works and the custodian of the legacy of the 20th century’s most prominent religious seekers and teachers.
Joseph McAuleyFebruary 22, 2019
Child psychologist and founding member of the Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) organization, Miguel Hurtado from Spain, center, reads an open letter to the Benedictine order outside the St. Anselm on the Aventine Benedictine complex in Rome on Feb. 22. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
In addressing the abuse crisis, Ms. Ghisoni called for “the dynamic involvement of the whole people of God.”
Gerard O’ConnellFebruary 22, 2019