In an endnote to Chapter 6 entitled ‘Silence,’ the editor Bruce L. Venarde tells us that ‘Taciturnitas traditionally means limited speech, but Benedict generally uses it to signify silence.’ The senses are not unrelated. Silence can lend its ear to limited speech, and limited speech rests and resounds more readily than it wriggles.

In the Chapter 8, ‘Humility,’ Benedict speaks of 12 steps, each step being a spiritual exercise, the whole not reducible to an algorithm. Attentively, we read that ‘The eleventh step of humility is that when a monk speaks he does so gently and without laughter, humbly, seriously, in few words and reasonable ones, not noisily, as it is written, “A wise man is made known by his brevity.”‘

Upon meeting a patron this past week, I wrote,

To loose my words

Off this heavy branch–

Each one, lightly, without counting.