And at the Hour

By Timothy Dailey-Valdés - Austin, Texas, USA - 4 April 2013

In memory of Andrew McGrory, d. May 4, 1922.


Springtime came to Central Texas as it always does,
with wildflowers and mockingbirds heralding it like
cherubim, but on this day the skies above were gray
and restless.


The boys of St. Edward's High School took no notice,
too busy with the holy task at hand, the sublime art
of baseball. Andrew McGrory, just sixteen, was up to bat
when the tornado came.


The Fathers and Brothers in solemn black descended
swiftly on the field, mirroring the fast-approaching funnel,
and swept the boys to safety. They prayed in Latin
under desks, until the twister withdrew.


In the aftermath,
emerging into the startling
sunglow, the students were all
accounted for, save one.


They found the boy, poor Andrew.
lifeless, just west of campus, laid out
like Hyacinthus. He held his cap in his hand,
emblazoned with an E, in Marian blue and Papal gold.


The students wondered what it all meant,
if it meant anything at all (they weren't
sure it did), and quietly, instinctively
began to pray.


One of the boys would later swear
he saw, through squinted eyes,
a dove rise on a calmer wind,
as the children intoned In paradisum