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Photo by Emily Glick

Teach Me To Number My Days

Donna Spruijt-Metz

Today, January 21st 2024, marks the 107th day since October 7th. 

This poetry is in response to the violence and devastation that has occurred

and continues to unfold in Israel/Palestine. These poems are in conversation with

Psalm 116, included in Hebrew with an English translation.

Fragment for Day 20 of The War

—after Psalm 116 versus 1-4

And I am calling out to YOU in this darkness—yet don’t know what to say


And I am mounted like an insect in the narrows of judgment 


And I’m a coward in the straits of strife—


And I’m asking to imagine a path—


And I am listening—straining in YOUR silence

On Day 34 of The War,

I Ask YOU to Teach Us Again

—after Psalm 116 verse 5-8

Ancient concepts:






Teach us again.


We are perpetrators 

of the unforgivable:


we forget.


Yet even standing

in this rubble

YOU invite us


to return

to peace—

YOU say



say tears.


YOU say



And we do. 

We stumble.

Psalm for Day 42 of The War

—after Psalm 116 verses 9-14

The poet* tells us this: once YOU 

took two heaps of letters, threw them

from a mountaintop, and scattered them

across all the paths of the world.


We are still trying to puzzle them

into words—the words YOU

surely intended. 

Didn’t YOU?


We just need a little grace

down here, right now. Maybe 

a hint or two on how 

to solve 

this lethal puzzle—


How can I stand

and be counted—when it is

the counting itself—the sifting

into categories—the willful separation—

that will kill us all?

* Yiddish poet Aaron Glants Leyeles in his poem The God of Israel

Psalm 116

אָ֭הַבְתִּי כִּי־יִשְׁמַ֥ע ׀ " אֶת־ק֝וֹלִ֗י תַּחֲנוּנָֽי׃


נְ֭דָרַי לַ" אֲשַׁלֵּ֑ם נֶגְדָה־נָּ֝֗א לְכׇל־עַמּֽוֹ׃

בְּחַצְר֤וֹת ׀ בֵּ֤ית " בְּֽת֘וֹכֵ֤כִי יְֽרוּשָׁלָ֗͏ִם הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃

נְ֭דָרַי לַ" אֲשַׁלֵּ֑ם נֶגְדָה־נָּ֝֗א לְכׇל־עַמּֽוֹ׃

יָ֭קָר בְּעֵינֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה הַ֝מָּ֗וְתָה לַחֲסִידָֽיו׃

אָנָּ֣ה " כִּֽי־אֲנִ֢י עַ֫בְדֶּ֥ךָ אֲנִי־עַ֭בְדְּךָ בֶּן־אֲמָתֶ֑ךָ פִּ֝תַּ֗חְתָּ לְמֽוֹסֵרָֽי׃

לְֽךָ־אֶ֭זְבַּח זֶ֣בַח תּוֹדָ֑ה וּבְשֵׁ֖ם " אֶקְרָֽא׃

I love the LORD
for He hears my voice, my pleas;

for He turns His ear to me
whenever I call.

The bonds of death encompassed me;
the torments of Sheol overtook me.
I came upon trouble and sorrow

and I invoked the name of the LORD,
“O LORD, save my life!”

The LORD is gracious and beneficent;
our God is compassionate.

The LORD protects the simple;
I was brought low and He saved me.

Be at rest, once again, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.

You have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the LORD
in the lands of the living.

I trust [in the LORD];
out of great suffering I spoke

and said rashly,
“All men are false.”

How can I repay the LORD
for all His bounties to me?

I raise the cup of deliverance
and invoke the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all His people.

The death of His faithful ones
is grievous in the LORD’s sight.

I am Your servant,
Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have undone the cords that bound me.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to You
and invoke the name of the LORD.

I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all His people,

in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in the midst of Jerusalem.

*English Translation, JPS (1985) 

כִּי־הִטָּ֣ה אׇזְנ֣וֹ לִ֑י וּבְיָמַ֥י אֶקְרָֽא׃

אֲפָפ֤וּנִי ׀ חֶבְלֵי־מָ֗וֶת וּמְצָרֵ֣י שְׁא֣וֹל מְצָא֑וּנִי צָרָ֖ה וְיָג֣וֹן אֶמְצָֽא׃

וּבְשֵֽׁם־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֶקְרָ֑א אָנָּ֥ה " מַלְּטָ֥ה נַפְשִֽׁי׃

חַנּ֣וּן " וְצַדִּ֑יק וֵ֖אלֹהֵ֣ינוּ מְרַחֵֽם׃

שֹׁמֵ֣ר פְּתָאיִ֣ם " דַּ֝לֹּתִ֗י וְלִ֣י יְהוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

שׁוּבִ֣י נַ֭פְשִׁי לִמְנוּחָ֑יְכִי כִּֽי־" גָּמַ֥ל עָלָֽיְכִי׃

כִּ֤י חִלַּ֥צְתָּ נַפְשִׁ֗י מִ֫מָּ֥וֶת אֶת־עֵינִ֥י מִן־דִּמְעָ֑ה אֶת־רַגְלִ֥י מִדֶּֽחִי׃

אֶ֭תְהַלֵּךְ לִפְנֵ֣י " בְּ֝אַרְצ֗וֹת הַחַיִּֽים׃

הֶ֭אֱמַנְתִּי כִּ֣י אֲדַבֵּ֑ר אֲ֝נִ֗י עָנִ֥יתִי מְאֹֽד׃

אֲ֭נִי אָמַ֣רְתִּי בְחׇפְזִ֑י כׇּֽל־הָאָדָ֥ם כֹּזֵֽב׃

מָה־אָשִׁ֥יב לַ" כׇּֽל־תַּגְמוּל֥וֹהִי עָלָֽי׃

כּוֹס־יְשׁוּע֥וֹת אֶשָּׂ֑א וּבְשֵׁ֖ם " אֶקְרָֽא׃



















Donna Spruijt-Metz

Donna Spruijt-Metz is author of ‘General Release from the Beginning of the World’ (2023), 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, Poetry Northwest, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

Emily Glick
WhatsApp Image 2024-01-18 at 13.23.12.jpeg

Emily Glick is a photojournalist and anti-occupation activist living in Jerusalem. She dedicates her time to documenting resistance and resilience across Israel and Palestine.

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