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.

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