Day 0: Shekhinah
—in the Form of a WaltMarie
Something wakes me in the night—
ruach, a breeze, a feather lightly down
—her gloaming mists along the ceiling—the veil cracks,
I fall through, into a private moment between her and
—what can I do but be present—an early witness to what
Day 1: Buck Moon
Jess died this morning
at Buck Moon. Good choice, my friend—so full,
that I can’t manage the news, although we knew
it was coming. Can’t manage the full
moon rituals. I try an anagram
of Jess died this morning.
I get as far as ‘Goddess inherits’
This seems right. I have leftover letters
—j, i, m, n—not so solvable.
That seems right too. All my rules—
List Psalm for Day 2: A Ledge Just Wide Enough for Grief*
1. Everything vapor, hot. No mercy. Hike uphill.
2. Mourners clumped under a sliver of shade.
3. Pall bearers along a narrow path, seven stops.
4. Lower her into the earth’s wound.
5. Our peoples’ strict small interval between death and burial.
6. I praise YOUR precepts. They predict our taxonomy of needs.
7. Because, because, because.
8. The rabbi reads from words I didn’t know she wrote.
9. Maybe I never really knew her.
10. Describe ‘knowing’ a person.
11. The rabbi throws the first clump of dirt into the grave
12. onto the casket—sounds of hail on a tin roof. Do we startle?
13. He absolves us all from any wrong we might have done her,
14. absolves us from all we failed to do for her.
15. I think; barely believable.
16. I feel; a lightness.
17. We take turns. We sweat. We beast. We claw & shovel the soil until the casket is covered.
19. Only now, may the ribbons be torn.
20. Only now, may the mourning begin.
21. The mercy of it.
*From Meg Day, Last Psalm at Sea Level
List Psalm for the Days That Follow
1. Concatenate—to link together—especially that which seems un-linkable.
2. Dreams often play loose with physics.
3. I’m not thinking straight today because it is Wednesday.
4. Best plan of action: Avoid interpersonal disaster.
5. I seem to be playing loose and fast with physics, myself.
6. Today is actually Monday. But it behaves like a Wednesday.
7. What a pathetic tangle. We move past concatenation into conflation.
8. Yesterday was the second formal day of morning because it was Sunday. We had to skip Saturday because it is Shabbat and Shabbat is always a holiday.
9. No mourning on Shabbat. That’s one of our laws.
10. There will always be a Shabbat during shiva, always a day of rest.
11. Built in. This is genius. Because shiva is exhausting.
12. In general, the laws of my people are well crafted.
13. (If we ignore a slew of them).
14. Ever noticed how the ritual ‘shiva’ is spelled the same as the Hindu deity ‘Shiva’? How we skip these stones across cultures and languages?
15. If it wasn’t Monday tamquam Wednesday, if I wasn’t tangled in the sheets of mourning, I would try to think about this—there is a metaphor in here somewhere. It is likely a good one.
16. Or we dream—skipping stones across shores that were never
Donna Spruijt-Metz is a poet, a psychology professor, and a recent MacDowell Fellow. Her first career was as a classical flutist. She lived in the Netherlands for 22 years and translates Dutch poetry to English. Her poetry and translations appear in Copper Nickel, RHINO, Poetry Northwest, the Tahoma Literary Review, the Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbooks are ‘Slippery Surfaces’ (Finishing Line Press) and ‘And Haunt the World’ (a collaboration with Flower Conroy, Ghost City Press). Her full length ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ is forthcoming (January 2023, Free Verse Editions). Her website is https://www.donnasmetz.com/