Unrequited Love by Ruth Hoberman

Unrequited Love

I used to shun unrequited love.
Better to wait for someone
who could love me back.

But now the rocks ignore me;
the cedars, ruddy and disheveled,
lean away; the goldfinches flee

as I approach. Should I pretend
indifference? I study the robin’s
chirrup chirroo, the chickadee’s

yoo hoo, yoo hoo: the party-guest
no one wants to talk to, too dim
to understand the conversation,

much less join in. Still my silly skin
aches to love them all. This world
lays waste to reticence, upends

my glass, spills my wits,
my dignity, hangs my heart bare
as the binoculars splayed on my chest.

So, nothing returns my call.
At seventy I’ve given up
keeping score—willing

myself (at last) to love
what turns away.


For thirty years, Ruth Hoberman taught English at Eastern Illinois University. Since her 2015 retirement, her poems and essays have appeared in such journals as Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Smartish Pace, RHINO, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Ploughshares.

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