Four Poems by Donna Spruijt-Metz

Sarah Returns to Me as Kirkland Culinary Parchment Paper

I’ve got Adele blasting on repeat, my earbuds in,
even in my own studio. They seem better at blocking,
better than surround sound at drowning

it out, drowning out your absence. But it’s no use. It’s the fifth month
of noise. By now I know the signs, yet it always catches me
off guard. My peripheral vision

shimmers slightly right before you

show up. Tonight, you take the form
of the jumbo box of parchment paper
you once bought for us. I touch the box, you

brush my shoulder. That’s how it goes. I shock to stillness,
vision vibrating on infrared, feeling the warmth
of your slight body,

As if you were unhung. As if the scaffolding
were undone. As if magic, like the way that roll
of parchment doesn’t ever seem

to run out, oh restless ghost, the way
you did.
I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be unkind. I am just

howling into your vanishing point,
which has so expertly given the illusion
of death.


Sarah Returns to Me as a 100% Organic Cotton Round
                            “Touch, as a form of collision;”
                                                —Carl Phillips

You once asked if I needed them. I didn’t think I did.
But you, in that way of yours—being so unsure of the needs
of love, or friendship, or even a conversation—yet confident
in your knowledge of the objects that people needed—comfort
by vegetable, by rice, by small porcelain bowls of great
simplicity and thus great beauty, by mobile phone stands—I stand
before the mirror tonight, cotton round in hand, and I hear
cotton round’—in a voice that is undeniably yours—your accent—you,
giving all the ‘o’s their due, their roundness.
—I’m a little spooked, yet glad of the visit—thinking how it might
have been for you—towards the end—unmedicated, hearing voice
after voice after voice—or maybe ‘after’ is the wrong word—’so many’
you once told me—and some worse than others.
But what do I know? You asked me if I needed ‘cotton rounds
Yes. I learned to need them.


Sarah Returns to Us as a Dwindling Supply of Active Dry Yeast

I carry my laptop from desk to kitchen. I paw through the refrigerator,
looking for what we might need—which would, of course, not be there, so
I am looking for what is absent. I return to my screen. What am I missing?
‘Baking supplies,’ the shopping bot suggests. ‘Baking supplies,’ I murmur.
My husband says he has everything he needs, except soon he will need yeast
for the first time in almost two years. At the beginning of the pandemic,
everyone decided to bake their own bread. There was no yeast to be found
anywhere—no yeast to make our breads rise. Sarah found a bulk package
of yeast for sale at a bakery. She was brilliant that way, in her finding. We
divided it up, bagged it and froze it. Little bags of ascension, islands of clear
speech, just waiting for us to reach into where things are frozen, and retrieve


Sarah Returns to Us as an Eviscerated Dog Plushie

saturated with saliva—the pups worry it, fight
over it, pull each other across the floor with it—jaws
clenched down hard on it. It’s the effigy of a doctor—a gift
from Sarah—the idea being that since our daughter
is a doctor—I don’t need to finish that thought—or maybe
I can’t. Who could understand her multitude twisty path-
ways to kindness? This particular destroyed toy had escaped
the rubbish bin—hidden itself behind the couch,
and tonight, it was miraculously (if you are a dog)
fished out—but what do we know of destroyed?
The dogs are ecstatic over this foul shell of a thing
—as if it somehow brings her back—
even though they had long ago pulled out
the stuffing—disemboweled the squeaky part.


Donna Spruijt-Metz is psychology professor, poet, and recent MacDowell Fellow. Her poetry appears in Copper Nickel, RHINO, Poetry Northwest, the Tahoma Literary Review, the Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbooks are ‘Slippery Surfaces’ and ‘And Haunt the World’ (with Flower Conroy). Her full length ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ is forthcoming (2022, Free Verse Editions). Her website is