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

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.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A woman places a candle by floral tributes for the victims of an attack at Turku Market Square on Friday, in Turku, Finland, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva via AP)
“We carry in our hearts the pain of the acts of terrorism that in these last days have caused numerous victims.”
Gerard O'ConnellAugust 20, 2017
I’ve never even owned a dog. Isn’t that a prereq for parenting these days?
Ashley McKinlessAugust 18, 2017
Injured people react after a van crashed into pedestrians in the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, Aug. 17. Terrorists killed at least 12 and injured more than 50 others. (CNS photo/David Armengou, EPA)
The pope denounced the attack as “a grave offence against the Creator.”
Gerard O'ConnellAugust 18, 2017
Last week, as events unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., my black Dominican father was pulled over by I.C.E.
Olga SeguraAugust 18, 2017