Cover Photo: An illustration of a snake, poised to strike, fangs bared, as if almost smiling
Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult

The Only Invitation

I was begging / for some grandeur even if it meant / a little blood or whole limb

Ben Purkert - THE ONLY INVITATION

The Only Invitation

a snake it was sunbathing on the trail
not neatly coiled but unashamed it had
acquired its length over the course

of many years it had earned everything

for some grandeur even if it meant
a little blood or whole limb I bowed
before the snake and promised I was his
I’d do anything he asked and more

at that moment the woods appeared
to fall away not hopelessness exactly
when the world opens its jaws
and invites you to come in

Ben Purkert is the author of For the Love of Endings (Four Way Books, 2018). His work appears or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. An editor at Guernica, he teaches at Rutgers. He's currently at work on a novel about toxic masculinity. You can read more of his work at benpurkert.com or on Twitter (@BenPurkert).