- The Body, and: Grief
A body doesn’t turn ice-cold with death— the movies lie about everything— it cools, instead, until lukewarm. Your breath feels fevered in contrast. O death, thy sting, and so on, implies a sharp and certain crossing; it won’t describe the moment spent in staring at an eye to catch a turn of light, the chest that breath had barely bent before—the time when she has died but you don’t yet know it. A pilgrimage to which you weren’t invited, you who wait dumb, to convince yourself that anyone is missing. No one’s even cold. It’s not until her lips turn blue that you detect the chill.
Amputees whose phantom limbs clench with a pain that can’t be borne,
whose losses are repaid by ghost hands made of fire, [End Page 49]
may be cured by the clever use of a mirror:
angle the glass so the opposite limb appears to replace its twin
and watch that illusion as it heals. The eyes see two
arms, so the brain mends its fragile reality: the ethereal fist
uncurls, blood flows through the mind’s fingers, reflection
refleshes what’s lost. The body sighs into itself as the image remakes
the world, undone by the absence of that absent grasp. [End Page 50]
Laura Passin lives in Chicagoland and teaches English at Northwestern University, where she earned her PhD. She is working on her first poetry manuscript, Aphasia, which deals with illness, grief, and the loss of language.