Deliberately he would unclasp
his book of withholding
a page at a time, and it was nothing
arcane, just the old rules
we all had inscribed on our slates.
Each character blocked on the parchment secure
in its volume and measure.
Each maxim given its space.
Tell the truth. Do not be afraid.
Durable, obstinate notions,
like quarrymen's hammers and wedges
proofed by intransigent service.
Like coping stones where you rest
in the balm of the wellspring.
So I think he may have been crossing his Milosz poem with the address of the risen Jesus to Mary Magdalene, saying that human touch was no longer possible between himself and this woman.”