From Issue 21: "Women at Shiva" by Donna Spruijt-Metz (Poetry)

Reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

When I first read Spruijt-Metz's work, "Women At Shiva" I was immediately drawn to the marriage of content with form as the work is allowed to travel on the page. For me, this poet's work is gentle with the reader, and the delicate touch allowed me to see the natural connections through generations, through life and death and change, between what is visible and what is not.   

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Mare Heron Hake

Poetry Editor






by Donna Spruijt-Metz


                              When a mother dies

             she leaves her residue—a snail’s trail 

across the days of her daughters—

              the trails form 

                           glittering webs 


sidewalks everywhere—

                 cracking them


                            we remember the mothers 

               just as we forget the trails—ignore them—

skirt them—

            we get on with it— 


                             until the next mother dies—and then 

                 we, the daughters of the dead, 

are called back 

                  into the muck of it


                                the suck of

                     loss—the vertigo shift 

in generations—the startle 

                      of aloneness—wanting

                                 just one more call

                      —to hear 

 her voice—ask 

                      the unanswered


                                  until it is our turn 

                        to leave

that same 

                        glistening scar



***reprinted with permission of the poet


 Donna Spruijt-Metz had this to say about her work:

Shiva is a Hebrew word meaning "seven" and refers to a seven-day period of mourning we observe after a death of a loved one. During the pandemic, we have been sitting shiva together over Zoom. This poem was born on a Thursday evening when I was studying Psalms with five women, during the period of shiva for one of our mothers. Her mother’s death raked up all of our memories—many of the group had recently lost our mothers, or it was near the anniversaries of one of our mother’s death, and all of us have daughters.


Donna Spruijt-Metz (she/her) is a psychology professor, was a professional flutist, was a rabbinical school candidate, but is mostly a poet. She has authored two chapbooksSlippery Surfaces (Finishing Line Press) and And Haunt the World (with Flower Conroy, Ghost City Press). Website:

Photo credit: Rachael Warecki