Francesca Bell

Too Many Men, Each One Leaving

This one likes me best when I sit astride

him, legs bent so knees push

either side of his hips. I keep my eyes

closed mostly but don’t mind that he watches

my body, the grace of each easy collision.

I like to think of twinkling lights,

snow with no steps on it. I like to think

of Mary, chosen by God. Some say


He came to her room and entered her body

like a man, with His celestial penis

and holy seed. I would be Mary riding

the bumpy mule to Bethlehem, swollen,

crying out as the beast lurches over loose stones.

I would that God visited my sleep, lifted

my shame. But I wake alone, twisted in white

sheets, my mornings littered with sin


and confusion. I lean, Mary, like a sapling

in rain, like you. They ask, and I bend

to tenderness, even passion. I lie down,

delicate and rooted as grass. But each one finishes,

as God cast His one, pure shadow over you

and was done. A small heater whispers

through the soil and clutter of my room.

Its warmth rises, rises—and is gone.




“Too Many Men, Each One Leaving” first appeared in River Styx.