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  • Simon Constam


Updated: Jan 5, 2022

By Simon Constam

In my 68th year, a woman with whom I spoke

only perhaps a couple of dozen times

30 years ago when she used to

come into my bookstore in Abbotsford

always with her small children, a boy and girl,

occasionally with her quiet husband,

came back to me in a dream.

Her precise way of speaking,

her height, her short hair, her angular shoulders,

her name began with an M, I’m sure,

her kindness,

her soft freckled face -

and now she was before me,

so precisely was it her.

She spoke quietly, it was so unusual.

I didn’t really catch what she was saying.

And then she lay down beside me.

I asked her name.

She would not tell me.

I think she understood that I have forgotten it.

She liked my red beard in those days

and the way I disagreed with her

whenever she wanted to talk about life and the world.

She would choose the plain meaning of a thing

and I the implications of it.

Then she tells me, as if I do not know,

that things sometimes don’t change as they appear to be destined to.

‘Remember my little son, Henry?’ she asks.

‘He died two days after I last saw you,

when he was 8.

I thought you might remember something about him.’

‘The effort to please God has never worked, has it?’ she says.

She asked if I remember him - Henry.

‘I don’t,’ I said.

I was thinking, at that moment, of taking her in my arms to comfort her.

Strange thing, though: she held and comforted me.

And then I remembered more from long ago.

Her husband, he looked a little bit like me. As I recall him,

he always stood behind her, was always answering the questions she put to him

but was otherwise silent. Didn’t look at books either. And I don’t recall him

engaging with his boy and girl at all, although he may have.

We were both young. It was long ago.

I don’t remember Henry.

I wish I did.

About Simon Constam:

Constam is a Canadian poet and aphorist. His poetry has been published in a number of magazines and online websites such as: LongCon Mag, Inez Magazine, The Jewish Literary Journal, Poetica, The Dark Poets Club and The Mark Literary Review. His first book of poetry, a collection of Jewish poems, will be published by Wipf and Stock Publishers in 2022.


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