Peel Away to Dust

—a pantoum after Psalm 103, verses 6-16

by Donna Spruijt-Metz (Los Angeles, CA)

Tonight—buoyed 

by making order—and rituals

of passing 

and there’s the fear of it.

By making order I am lifted—rites

of YOUR presence—

the fear of it—

the haunting stop

of YOUR presence

gentling me. Time—and yet

the haunting—stop—

I am blindfolded by my hands

as YOU gentle me—time—

the moving into—yet

my hands

along the walls of YOUR compassion

are absolute—yet 

the ghost persists, spirits me

along the walls of YOUR compassion—

fumbling YOUR fabled kindness.

I touch it, hungry

spirits peel—fragile—

as I fumble in YOUR kindness

YOU lift humiliation, my concerns—

peels me fragile,

frightened desertion. 

Unlock concerns

and dust feels pain.

I remember every desertion, 

going to dust

I am dust and dust feels pain

as I fertilize YOUR fields.

I, willful, mourn going to dust.

Wind passes through us all—moves us on.

I bless, fertilize YOUR fields

tonight, light, buoyed.

A few words from the author on the poem “Peel Away to Dust“–
For years, on most Thursday nights I have gathered with a group of friends to study psalms using a process called ‘Lectio Divina,’ borrowed (and morphed) from the traditional Christian monastic practice. Often these musings lead to poems. The repetition in the pantoum form helped me to express my halting approach towards the holy.

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). Camille Dungy (Orion Magazine) chose her forthcoming full length ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ (January 2023, Free Verse Editions) as one of the 14 Recommended Poetry Collections for Winter 2022. She gets restless. Her website is https://www.donnasmetz.com/

And here’s a link to Donna’s debut collection, which will be released on January 1, 2023: https://www.amazon.com/General-Release-Beginning-World-Spruijt-Metz/dp/1643173510

Leave a comment

Filed under American Jewry, Jewish, Jewish identity, Jewish writing, Judaism, poetry, writing practice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s