Hayden's Ferry Review


Contributor Spotlight: Ben Purkert

When our bodies are most intimate with one another, where do our minds go? Maybe they abandon us for a few moments. Maybe they reach “up & up for the ceiling / where hot air lightly / presses its face.”

I wrote my two poems in


after reading Anne Carson’s

Eros the Bittersweet

. I found myself thinking a lot about Carson’s claim that desire depends on three things: the lover, the beloved, and whatever comes between them. What if there is no obstacle keeping us apart? Is embrace the antithesis of eros? And once we split up, does eros increase proportionally across time and space? Or do we eventually drift out of range, the signal thinning out?

I’m fortunate to have a good relationship with my ex. And yet there’s inevitably a strange mix of emotions that accompanies any chance encounter. The exchange feels natural but surreal, friendly but somewhat fatalistic.

Let’s fly

says the tree

Into what

says the cloud

The common metaphor, I think, is distance: we describe a couple as having separated. But we’re not marble pieces dragged across a chessboard. We morph over time. And the spaces between us are not nothing. The gaps in our lives fill with new devotions, new loves, new poems. 


Ben Purkert's poem, "In Hotels, Sex Flings Itself Open" and "Running Into an Ex" appeared in Issue 55 of Hayden's Ferry Review.