Last Blessing

catholic poetry room

Catholic Poetry Room
This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by James Green.                                                                                                                        

Last Blessing

“But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’” – Genesis 32:26

A TV in the corner of the room erupted
in fake applause, a game show I think.
Noise like this invades no matter how hard
we try to mute whatever steals the present.

They say that stimulation of the senses helps
patients in this state. It did not. We wanted
silence; we wanted to see with the heart’s eye,
to hear what can only be spoken without words.

A ventilator pulsed in steady time like
the milking machines we had at the farm,
his chest heaving in rhythm; a hissing sound
came from the tube his throat tried to reject.

Yes, we both knew. We knew that it was time.
We knew the way one knows that the sun has set
and light is fading but still wants to hold onto
that last particle of twilight, to not let go, yet.

I moistened his lips with a damp cloth, smoothed
the wrinkle in the sheet under his arm and rearranged
a tube leading to his wrist, turned his hand to hold it,
feeling the effort to squeeze mine as a last blessing.

James Green has published four chapbooks of poetry. His most recent, Long Journey Home, was the winner of the 2019 Charles Dickson Chapbook Contest sponsored by the Georgia Poetry Society.  His individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the USA.   Formerly a university professor and administrator, he is now retired and resides in Muncie, Indiana. To learn more about James and his poetry, visit his website at

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By Jeffrey Essmann

Jeffrey Essmann, ICL Poetry Curator To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page.

Jeffrey Essmann is Poetry Editor for and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past.

Jeffrey is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.