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

If things are this bad within the church, how bad is it in our homes and neighborhoods?
Matt Malone, S.J.August 21, 2018
You don’t get to claim Christ’s body without assuming the punishment it suffered.
Jordan Daniel WoodAugust 21, 2018
Buffalo Bayou floods past its banks near downtown Houston on Aug. 31, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with 4.5 feet of rain. (CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald)
Hurricane Harvey took a toll on all Houstonians—rich and poor, white and brown, city and suburb—but this boomtown proud of its diversity is getting back on track.
J.D. Long-GarcíaAugust 21, 2018
As with most adaptations, the film does not fully capture the richness of the novel. But it comes very close.
Angelo Jesus CantaAugust 21, 2018