C. P. Stewart’s “I Will Always Remember” [Read the poem here]
(First published in Issue #9 of Cha)
In the title and the opening line of the poem, the persona tells us that he remembers the smell of a lover: ‘I will always remember / the smell of you’ (Title & L1). The title is reminiscent of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and here too we will see memory associated with smell and food.
The exact odour that the persona remembers is revealed in the next lines: ‘the smell of you // like morning dew / on a green apple’ (L1-L3). ‘Morning dew’ and ‘green apple’ can be viewed as metonyms of the lover, who is compared to new and ephemeral objects in a garden. Morning dew does not survive, it never does. Perhaps as Frost suggests, the colour ‘green’ is the ‘hardest hue to hold’ (c.f. “Nothing Gold Can Stay“). As in Frost’s poem, here ‘green’ too is associated with inexperience and innocence. This meaning of green is expanded further in the next stanza: ‘Sixteen years old / and a new-made thing’ (L4-L5). In some sense, a sixteen-year-old is hardly ‘a new-made thing’. The lover is ‘new’ in another way: the Edenic apple is tasted and a girl transforms into a woman, a newly made being. The smell that the persona remembers, then, is that of their first sexual experience. (Maybe the image is also literal. Was she wearing apple-scented perfume or lip gloss?) Comparing a lover to ‘a new-made thing’ also reminds one of e. e. cummings’s poem “i like my body when it is with your“; the opening and final lines are respectively, ‘i like my body when it is with your / body. It is so quite a new thing’ and ‘possibly i like the thrill / of under me you so quite new’.
Yes, men like it ‘new’.
The lover in Stewart’s poem does not stay, even though her aroma remains. The persona, shutting his sight, relies on only one sense – his sense of smell – to capture her: ‘I closed my eyes / to breathe you in, // but you were gone … // like morning dew / from a green apple’ (L6-L10). ‘[L]ike morning dew / from a green apple’ (L9-L10) echoes the earlier ‘like morning dew / on a green apple’ (L2-L3). This time the simile does not only represent the lover’s smell, it also describes her presumably inevitable departure, for morning dew simply cannot stay. The image of morning dew on or from a green apple is versatile: while previously it conjured the impression of freshness and transience, now it highlights the fleetingness of love. It may also suggest her loss of innocence as the morning dew of her youth evaporates and she enters a new phase of life. The overlapping nature of these lines seems to suggest that it is the brevity of love that makes it memorable.
Perhaps there is a certain unique scent associated with each ‘new-made thing’. In Stewart’s poem, we learn that the persona’s love smells ‘like morning dew / on a green apple’. Do you remember how you smelt when you were made new? Do you remember his or her smell? That ‘made-new’ moment may be gone now, ‘like morning dew / from a green apple’, but perhaps something does stay? Do you remember it? Will you always remember?
C. P. Stewart lives with his family in North Yorkshire. Previously singer/songwriter with the cult band Laughing Gravy, his work has been widely published in England , Canada , Australia and the United States. He was the poetry editor for Sotto Voce arts and literary magazine. His first collection of poetry Taking it In was published by Koo Poetry Press in November 2009 and was reviewed in Cha.