...On the water many afternoons I fell to silent dreaming. I wandered the valley, the mountains and desert searching for the sun's end, but discovered more secrets and travelled more ground in the arms and hips of women. I fought those who would have harmed my children. I threw an ax in the face of evil. I did what I thought was right. When the oxen were tired I let them rest. When the children were hungry I gave them bread and honey. Where the statues of gods were overturned I set them back on their pedestals. And when, after so much effort, my plans went awry I acquiesced to a greater authority.
Then one day, laden with flowers and lamb and cake, I visited the tomb of an uncle and found myself lying there among the spices and linen. That is how I left the garden. That is how I entered the heart of the mountain. I had wondrous dreams of bright hawks soaring through dark corridors. At the well I met a blind woman who called me 'son.' In the temples I stood so long the priests gathered, asking, “What brings a man so far to sit and stare into the air?"
"I want to see beyond the veil." "Go back to your fields, old man. There are no secrets here." They laughed and left me to thought.
For several years I came and went in the temples, praising the gods, staring into the faces of their statues. Then one afternoon—I don't know why, perhaps the sun shone on me—a priest led me to the room of secrets. I saw a young girl spinning strands of flax and an old woman baking raisin cakes. Through a window I saw a man plowing his field, struggling to upturn a stone and calling to his stubborn donkeys. A hawk circled overhead, while two children tossed a small fish back into the river. I moved to speak, but the priest held up his hand. "You must be silent now. You are staring into the face of god.”
And I wept with joy. Though I'd seen my life before, that moment I knew it differently. From then on I sowed barley and walked under trees with wonder. I stumbled once and fell, then sat laughing in the road. Two boys rushed from their houses to uplift me.
"Old man, where do you live?" they asked. "We will carry you home."
I stretched out my arms, flinging them north and south, east and west. "Here," I said. "In the house of perpetuity!"
One day I died and was wound about with linen, myrrh and gum. My wife wept and my children sang. They poured spices and tears over my chest. The village men circled me with earth. They lay copper necklaces in my tomb, returning precious earth to earth. Left in the mountain for some days, I rose and uncovered myself, shedding skins like a snake. I was naked and new. I left bones and rags hidden in the dirt and I walked the corridor toward light.
There I came to this desert. Before me a thousand souls rose from the sand like gods. Together we walked the wasteland, together we crossed the bitter lakes. Naked we entered Truth. I stand before you now, having seen the ghosts of the long dead and the unborn, having seen skeletons and children, having seen blue starlight filter through the outstretched wings of a bird. Before you I stand a whole man speaking. I made a long journey. I did what I thought was right. I have come to see the gods.
Then rose the snake from the sand and coiled about my ankle hissing. "Fantasies all. What gives you the right to make demands of the gods?"
"I speak in truth," I said. "Not to humor you. Dead men have no need of pretense. What I seek is truth, light beyond light beyond Light. There are those who will tell you a different story. Who is to say which is right? But this I know: what I've seen with the eye has been fantasy, perhaps; but what I've known with the heart has been truth."
The snake observed me with amber eyes. He motioned toward a door that opened from air into air. "If that is so, can your heart name the name of this gate?"
"Being," I said.
"And the lands on either side?"
"Creation and destruction."
"Pass then, Osiris," he said.
The snake withdrew and the multicolored birds gathered, circling in the dark, gathering me, lifting me up. I stepped through and nothing changed, yet I entered heaven.Still myself alone on desert at night, I walked while winds scoured the sand below with sand and in the distance jackal howled at the stars.