A Prayer for the Ability to Pray
Donna Spruijt-Metz

after Psalm 109, verses 11–16

I broke         my left hip the first time our daughter left home
it was decades ago    one pain camouflaged          the other
        even though I’m standing         at the threshold

of YOUR cathedral        I can’t navigate        my own cargo          how is it
that I always think               tomorrow will finally be         
        rain-slicked and fresh

everything gliding out          from under me—mud under bad shoes
As if I am not   broken   at the thought of her           leaving again—
        I turn away         focus on the other pains—the ones of the body

I am before YOU continually—but not listening—not seeing, not lifting,
practicing               some kind of mercy             rehearsing for my own reckoning
        geography and time—miserable constructs             And now I have

fractured my right hip on the eve of her next departure       my own kind
of God wrestling      And so she will go                    I only have
        two hips to give.                  I stand continually before YOU—

        but I’m not listening    I am dangerous                    I am
                                                                        not               ready
                                                                               My Lord
Donna Spruijt-Metz’s debut poetry collection is General Release from the Beginning of the World (2023, Free Verse Editions, Palette Press). She is an emeritus psychology professor, MacDowell fellow, rabbinical school drop-out, and former classical flutist. She was featured as one of “5 over 50 debut authors” in Poets & Writers Magazine (11/23). Her chapbooks include Slippery Surfaces, And Haunt the World (with Flower Conroy), and Dear Ghost (winner, 2023 Harbor Review Editor’s prize).Her poems appear or are forthcoming in The Academy of American Poets, Tahoma Literary Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

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