The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Donna Katzin – For Ruth Bader Ginsberg

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Donna Katzin

For Ruth Bader Ginsberg

At 87, she dies in childbirth
on Erev Rosh Hashanah,
as the new year struggles
to be born.
Who will nurture it now?

We mourn the wisp of woman
who exhausted all her matter,
breath — a leaf with only
its lengthening shadow
to give to the wind.

We shiver in the chill, stare
into sky abandoned by its angels,
look to years we will not live to see
that it will take to recover the century
of rights we have just lost.

As we begin again,
we turn to the infant year,
squint into an uncertain sun
to make meaning of her message:
it is up to us now.

Note: Erev Rosh Hashanah is the eve of the Jewish New Year.


Donna Katzin is the founding and former executive director of Shared Interest, mobilizing investment funds for South and Southern Africa’s equitable development. She serves as co-coordinador of Tipitapa Partners — organizing communities to feed hungry Nicaraguan children, and serves on Community Change’s board. Her book of poetry and photographs, With These Hands, chronicles post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself. She is the proud mother of Sari and Daniel, and Mom Egg contributor.
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