Noli Me Tangere – a poem by Kathryn Muensterman

Noli Me Tangere 

I know why she ran to tell her friends you’d arrived.
She must have felt it in the belly, too,
the rush of understanding
when the face of a stranger becomes one beloved,
the moment you said her name—
and in an instant, in the blink of an eye,
everything was changed.

She loved you enough not to touch you,
though I know, too, how she longed
to embrace you as she had before,
to bury her face into your shoulder,
to find whether the oils she’d poured upon you
had settled into your skin or been washed away
by days of darkness and blinding, terrible light.

And she loved you enough to fade
into the corners of the rooms where she’d sat at your knee,
loved you enough to stand silent and astonished
as the clouds swallowed you up,
to go home, perhaps, and feed them,
though she ached to sit beside you again,
to touch you, and while the others slept,
she wept at the thought.

I know why she ran,
for to love you and not to tell of it 
was too much to bear,
and in the silence she carried to death
she suffered the greatest of them all.

Kathryn Muensterman is a native of Indiana and is currently pursuing a BA in English Literature at Washington and Lee University. She is the winner of a 2020 Academy of American Poets University Prize for her poem “Eschatology” (, and her poetry also appears in Washington and Lee’s literary magazine, Ampersand.

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