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

An immigration rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in April. The U.S. bishops' migration committee chair in a statement on July 18 urged President Donald Trump to "ensure permanent protection" for youth under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
U.S. bishops urge Trump administration "to continue administering the DACA program and to publicly ensure that DACA youth are not priorities for deportation."
In time, we respond or fail to respond to God’s dreams for us.
Terrance KleinJuly 19, 2017
Callista Gingrich at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on July 18. Gingrich was nominated by President Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Her husband is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
On issues that have become hallmarks of the Francis papacy, notably care of creation and the global refugee crisis, Mrs. Gingrich had difficulty explaining how she might engage the Vatican, given Mr. Trump’s views.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago at a press conference in Chicago on April 4. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic)
"I think that the terms gay and lesbian, L.G.BT. should be respected.... People should be called the way that they want to be called rather than us coming up with terms that maybe we’re more comfortable with.”