The Waiting Game

Advice and insight from a professional poet.



I always seem to fall for unavailable guys. What can poetry tell me about unrequited love and the (long) wait for the real thing?
— S


Sometimes I catch a scent of that guy’s cologne — my mind takes off down some turbulent trail I’m ashamed to be on, even for a brief moment of nostalgia, since I am married now. It sounds like you need to pick up a copy of Kim Addonizio’s What Is This Thing Called Love.

“So What?”

Guess what. If love is only chemistry—
phenylethylamine, that molecule
that dizzies up the brain’s back room, smoky
with hot bebop, it won’t be long until
a single worker’s mopping up the scuffed
and littered floor, whistling tunelessly,
each endorphin cooling like a snuffed
glass candle, the air stale with memory.
So what, you say; outside, a shadow lifts
a trumpet from its case, lifts it like an ingot
and scatters a few virtuosic riffs
toward the locked-down stores. You’ve quit
believing that there’s more, but you’re still stirred
enough to stop, and wait, listening hard.

No matter how many romances fail, the true romantic in you will never die. You may become jaded, temporarily disinterested, or even vow to be celibate for life, but some part of you will always be on the lookout for love. I can’t promise that it will come, but I can promise that countless people have been in the very same situation as yours only to find the love of their life years later. And when that happens, you’ll look back on this time with the kind of clarity hindsight offers and realize how much wiser and more understanding you are after enduring love’s turmoil.

And don’t be afraid of telling him he’s a jerk — loudly and in public and while throwing cappuccino into his face — if he forgot to mention that he was married. • 14 February 2011

Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston.


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