If Moses could not enter, which of us can presume?


His offense was striking the rock? But where does it say
that to strike a rock is forbidden? And what harm did he do
to the rock, that, anyway, gave the precious water?
His defect, I fear, was more grave—an excess of goodness
that common sense would suggest is where we should look
in such a man, against whom, it is said, “the angels
banded together.”
                                              Because he had brought from heaven
the mighty mainstay, the Torah. His act did not
diminish heaven so much as elevate earth—
but still, from then on, the separation was less.


No ravening birds swarmed to tear at his liver
on a mountainside in the frozen north. Such stories,
too vivid, too violent, are not for us. But Jokhebed
cried aloud and looked in the valley of Moab
for the burial place, but it was nowhere to be seen.


She could not weep at his tomb, could not recite
the proper prayers, and her heart was sore, and in heaven
he knew, and cried aloud, “Jokhebed, my mother!”
loud and bitter, as if he were not in heaven,
as if, there too, he had not been permitted entrance.