The Ending Is in the Beginning

January 20, 2011

of this first movement of Suite
No. 3 in C major for solo

cello by Bach.
It’s lovely and sad, how it

knows itself, knows its own
closing as it opens. Sad,

and also exhilarating,
how every moment of it

seems part of the ending,
how halfway through, you

get the feeling the ending
has long ago begun

so that as you’re listening you
hear the work end, then end

again—then end another way
and another—then find

a new kind of ending and add
an ending to that ending that

seems to end things once
and for all—then fall

into what can only be the end
of endings. And you know it

when it comes, that final
finale. It comes about

like a hunger, like a thirst,
and it leaves no doubt.

You knew what to listen for
all along, as it turns out.