The 2River View 28.2 (Winter 2024)

Erica Miriam Fabri

Making Love to the Grief Body

He undresses in a flash. His gold torso 
is shaped like a tombstone. 
The Grief Body is fire to touch.
But my throat is home to an inside river 
of spit, a reservoir of drool, that mudslides
over our shoulders, making all 
of our everything, slippery.

The Grief Body, like a shark, swallows 
his food whole, without chewing. I offer
my legs. I am trying to feed the fever out of him. 
I am trying to prove that my hands
are leeches. That if he will let me, I can 
suck out the sorrow with these wet palms. 

If I were a doctor, I would tell him what science says: 
that the apex of his heart has ballooned. 
But since I am a poet, I ask him to do 
the same thing he did last time:

peel my backbone out of its skin
and feed it to me, bone by bone, 
until I have a belly-full of skeleton. 
Let me make a wheel out of hips. 
Let me grind the grief away. 
Tear off my arms. You can have them. 
They're yours now. 

There are No Tattoos in Heaven

Last night, you came to visit me in a dream.
You told me, there are no tattoos in heaven,
and held out your arms, wiped clean, as proof.

You asked if I wanted to know more 
about what it's like to live in the sky.
I could tell you were tired by the way 
your body hung itself on the chair next to me.
The clouds must have peeled twenty years 
off of your skin. You wore dark brown hair, like a teenager.
You came back as the version of you I Loved first.
The version I Loved most.

There was too much to catch up on and I didn't know 
how much time we had. I told you I was having a hard time 
making poems without you here. That even though I'd been 
so angry with you, for so many years, I didn't want you to die. 

I told you my son is a masterpiece, that every day ignites
and detonates a cannonball thing inside me. I told you
that I do not go one day without remembering you, 
and wondering how you always knew, since we were kids, 
that you would die so young. Why did we never believe you?

You told me, again, that there are no tattoos in heaven, 
So, save your money. They are just a temporary stain.
Or, on second thought, you said: No, go ahead, 
get as many tattoos as you can afford. Their full-color life 
is fleeting, they decorate the flesh for such a short time. 
Savor every needled line.

I begged you to stay longer. But it was an impossible request.
No one gets to tell their dreams what to do.
I asked if you still remembered the screen door, 
the coconut, the handfuls of pennies, the lake. You didn't.

It was then that I realized, the dead don't recognize us.
They leave us behind, and we spend the rest of our days  
twisting our limbs, making ourselves turn colors
in our attempts
to bring them back to life.

Erica Miriam Fabri has been widely published and featured in various multi-media projects.  Her first book, Dialect of a Skirt, was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City and teaches Performance Poetry and Fiction at Pace University.
<< Dayna Jaye Cadman Peter Granbois >>
Copyright 2River. Please do not use or reproduce without permission.