Tuesday, May 1, 2018

"Lately" by Simon Constam

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Lately” by Simon Constam.  Constam hitchhiked around the world at eighteen, something he describes as probably his “most formative experience.” He worked for a publisher for a couple of years then owned a small bookstore in British Columbia for a long stretch. Today, he has a small sales consulting business.  

Constam wrote poetry as a young man but gave it up after just a few years, put off by the growing influence of academia. One day in his middle fifties, thirty-eight years after he’d given up, he returned to poetry.

Simon Constam

"Divide" Watercolor & Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
Quite out of the darkest part of the night,
she stirred awake.
We had argued
and nothing was resolved.
Only the distance between us on the bed 
was still narrow.

Touch does not require meaning.
So she asked me to satisfy her 
without me wanting anything in return.
Lately I have learned just that,
about giving and taking,
that neither needs to be denied, understood or forgiven.

Poet’s Notes:  I was thinking about those many moments in my first marriage when arguments had to be set aside because they did us no good and they had not yet been bad enough to force us into separate rooms or ultimately separate houses. Often the mere intimacy of being together was sufficient to carry us past the context of any specific disagreement--while physicality carried no intrinsic meaning, one way or another.

I was married for thirty-eight years. The breakup of my marriage came in big part because the calm devolution towards disinterest and unfeeling became too much for both of us. Also, not coincidentally, I had started to write again which you can read, I suppose, as self-examination. It can take one into the depths of things but sometimes the other person is just a bystander fading further and further from view. 

I am ten years removed from my first marriage, happily ensconced in a second. And only now the patterns of my behavior and my first wife's are becoming evident to me.

Editor’s Note:  I find this one haunting.  I particularly like the last two lines of the first stanza and the many meanings of "satisfy" in the second. 

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