[In saecula saeculorum]

In spring the snow peels back like gauze from the terrible wounds
the snow grows febrile and rotten in spring the whole place
is flensed and instead of healing everything has sex or falls back
in love it is messy bloody painful and raw and she was there
she was in the garden and while he watched she flayed her back
flayed her shoulders and lay down inside the green she knew
blood was a kind of connective tissue and in the rain she bled
and in the garden she wept and when she breathed they exchanged
the same air they entered each other and it wasn’t nearly enough
and then the bees came the bees stitched her wounds with venom
and sting brushed pollen along the lines as if her back were a map
the roads painted in golden dust as if devotion were enough as if
devotion were an illuminated manuscript as if the hours as if the days
could so easily be recorded could be remembered in the flesh and when
they were done the bees fell just so many broken hulls empty seeds
scattered in the grass waystations on a different map and in the orchard
the queen wept for her dead and the clouds were hammered open
by the unforgiving sun and nothing came to comfort her nothing came
for him as it was in the beginning is gone and never shall be again
world of sorrow world of falling without end amen

Leslie Harrison has recent poems forthcoming or out in journals including The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, FIELD, Antioch Review, Orion, and elsewhere. Her first book, Displacement, came out in 2009 from Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She teaches creative writing, poetry and literature at Towson University and divides her time between Baltimore and the Berkshires.