1The story of the end, of the last wordof the end, when told, is a story that never ends.We tell it and retell it—one word, then anotheruntil it seems that no last word is possible,that none would be bearable. Thus, when the heroof the story says to himself, as to someone far away,“Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”we may feel that he is pleading for us, that we arethe secret life of the story and, as long as his pleais not answered, we shall be spared. So the storycontinues. So we continue. And the end, once more,becomes the next, and the next after that.2There is an island in the dark, a dreamt-of placewhere the muttering wind shifts over the white lawnsand riffles the leaves of trees, the high treesthat are streaked with gold and line the walkways there;and those already arrived are happy to be the silkenremains of something they were but cannot recall;they move to the sound of stars, which is also imagined,but who cares about that; the polished columns they seemay be no more than shafts of sunlight, but for thosewho live on and on in the radiance of their remainsthis is of little importance. There is an islandin the dark and you will be there, I promise you,you shall be with me in paradise, in the single season of being,in the place of forever, you shall find yourself.And there the leaves will turn and never fall, there the wind will singand be your voice as if for the first time.3Someday someone will write a story tellingamong other things of a parting between motherand son, of how she wandered off, of how he vanishedin air. But before that happens, it will describehow their faces shone with a feeble light and howthe son was moved to say, “Woman, look at your son,”then to a friend nearby, “Son, look at your mother.”At which point the writer will put down his pen andimagine that while those words were spokensomething else happened, something unusual like apurpose revealed, a secret exchanged, a truthto which they, the mother and son, would be bound,but what it was no one would know. Not even the writer.4These are the days of spring when the sky is filled withthe odor of lilac, when darkness becomes desire,and there is nothing that does not wish to be born;days when the fate of the present is a breezy fullness,when the world’s great gift for fiction gilds eventhe dirt we walk on, and we feel we could live foreverwhile knowing of course that we can’t. Such is our plight.The master of weather and everything else, if he wants,can bring forth a dark of a different kind, one hiddenby darkness so deep it cannot be seen. No one escapes.Not even the man who believed he was chosen to do so,for when the dark came down he cried out, “Father, Father,why have you forsaken me?” To which no answer came.5To be thirsty. To say, “I thirst.”To close one’s eyes and see the giant worldthat is born each time the eyes are closed.To see one’s death. To see the darkening cloudsas the tragic cloth of a day of mourning. To be the onemourned. To open the dictionary of the Beyond and discoverwhat one suspected, that the only word in itis nothing. To try to open one’s eyes, but not to beable to. To feel the mouth burn. To feel the suddenpresence of what,again and again, was not said.To translate it and have it remain unsaid. To knowat last that nothing is more real than nothing.6“It is finished,” he said. You could hear him say it,the words almost a whisper, then not even that,but an echo so faint it seemed no longer to comefrom him, but from elsewhere. This was his moment,his final moment. “It is finished,” he said into a vastnessthat led to an even greater vastness, and yet all of itwithin him. He contained it all. That was the miracle,to be both large and small in the same instant, to belike us, but more so, then finally to give up the ghost,which is what happened. And from the storm that swirledin his wake a formal nakedness took shape, the truthof disguise and the mask of belief were joined forever.7Back down these stairs to the same scene,to the moon, the stars, the night wind. Hours passand only the harp off in the distance and the windmoving through it. And soon the sun’s gray disk,darkened by clouds, sailing above. And beyond,as always, the sea of endless transparence, of utmostcalm, a place of constant beginning that has within itwhat no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no handhas touched, what has not arisen in the human heart.To that place, to the keeper of that place, I commit myself.