Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.
When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky
Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close,
and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.
~Mark Strand “The End,” from The Continuous Life
Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.
~Annie Dillard from “Write Till You Drop”
I began to write after September 11, 2001 because that day it became obvious to me I was dying, though more slowly than the thousands who vanished in fire and ash that day, their voices obliterated along with their bodies. So, nearly each day since, while I still have voice and a new dawn to greet, I speak through my fingers to others, who, like me, are dying.
We are, after all, terminal patients, some of us more prepared than others to move on, slipping away into darkness, as if our readiness had anything to do with the timing.
Each day we get a little closer. I write in order to feel a little more ready. Each day I want to detach just a little bit, leaving a trace of my voice behind, wondering what will be left to say or sing at the end. Eventually, through unmerited grace, perhaps so much of me will be left on the page there won’t be anything or anyone left to do the typing.
No words should go to waste nor moments allowed to lapse unnoticed.
I dwell here for now, knowing Who will be waiting for me there.
Make a one-time or recurring donation to support Barnstorming
Make a monthly donation
Make a yearly donation
Choose an amount
Or enter a custom amount
Your contribution is deeply appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.
Your contribution is appreciated.DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly