I’ve been crying in my coffee for two hours while my ex sits at my kitchen table. We’re talking about the terms of our divorce and the thick set of papers in front of us. We both say (and truly believe) that we still love each other. But we’re not in love. It’s the cruelest form of unrequited love, because it’s something that you once had, but now — no matter how hard you try or how far you reach for it — it’s only a distant memory.
I asked local poet and Best Of 2015 book winner, Logen Cure, to help me process these feelings by sharing her work and her own experience with unrequited love. She told me about this 14th-century Italian poet named Francesco Petrarch.
“Petrarch devoted most of his work throughout his life to a beloved he calls Laura,” said Cure. “The story goes that he met Laura once, maybe from across a room, and fell in love with her instantly and permanently. There’s speculation that she was either a figment of his imagination or a real woman who was already married. Either way, she was not someone he knew personally. I think everyone has a Laura — someone they love in this big, overwhelming way, even if it’s doomed or impossible or unattainable.”
Cure had her own “Laura” years ago. It was a woman that she spent time with and knew, but the love she had for her was never returned in the way it was given.
We have all kinds of expectations about love, said Cure. Some are realistic and some aren’t. “I think that’s hard to navigate, especially when you’re in love.” But when people get past their “Laura,” they can find somebody that they can actually have, she says.
That’s exactly what happened in Cure’s own life. She married her best friend from high school years after the women graduated from college.
“She’s just the best thing ever,” said Cure. “We are so absurdly happy together.”
Absurd happiness. I’ll go for that. But first, I’ve got to get past all this other stuff. Poetry, and the process of recognizing that we’re not alone in our sorrows, is a good place to start — especially if it’s in a bar (see Cure’s poetry reading event below).
Poetry is an appropriate place for unrequited love, because it has the power to take words to the next level, says Cure. And it tries to answer (or at least address) the big universal questions in life that everyone experiences.
Here’s one of Cure’s poems about unrequited love from her book Letters to Petrarch:
like every morning previous,
she woke –
and with this act,
she answered my most
frantic and repeated prayer –
that I would wake to find her
(We are not meant to outlive
the presence of our gods.)
And I thanked her –
for choosing to see this day,
and me in it.
I thanked her
as if my faith mattered –
as if her decision was made
in light of my prayer.
(We were warned against
this kind of worship.)
she opened her lovely eyes,
and I believed the sun had risen.
Fall in love with love, or at least poetry, Monday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m. at Shipping & Receiving during Pandora’s Box Poetry Showcase. Cure and other talented local poets will read from their work inside one of Fort Worth’s hippest bars.
I’ll be there with a box of tissues and a carafe of wine.
Now, if you need some poetry to woe that soon-to-be lover, take a hint (and a few words) from Pablo Neruda.
As always, please write to me with your questions on love, relationships, and life at: firstname.lastname@example.org.