When I was a younger, less wise, man, I dated a woman who was an ardent admirer of Leonard Cohen and his music. I had never heard of Mr. Cohen back then, but I had heard — and treasured — Jeff Buckley‘s version of Mr. Cohen’s Alleluia. For years, I thought the song had been written by Jeff. Later on, I saw a video of Mr. Cohen performing Alleluia and I remember thinking the man had done a very poor job of covering Mr. Buckley’s classic.
This has all been corrected. I have since given Mr. Cohen his due. I have since given Mr. Cohen’s music as a gift. I’ve recognized his genius and I’m blown away by his prolific talent.
I don’t know what became of the woman I once loved. She might still be a fan of Mr. Cohen and his music. She probably is, wherever she’s listening to love songs these days. I think that once you fall in love with this man’s music, you’re probably a life-long devotee. So I dusted off this old poem I had written, I set it to music and I recorded it.
After I listened to the finished product, I thought that if she ever heard it, she might think that I sounded like a very poor imitation of Mr. Cohen — just like I thought Mr. Cohen compared to Jeff Buckley.
But at least she’d know that I was still thinking of her. Still trying to impress her.
I entered the cathedral
of the sungod, slash sungodess
—their mythological names
escape me now— barefoot and
weary, under branched arches
of ash, maple and oak.
On a bell tower of tall clouds,
birds of color clang in unison,
the scattered flock called
to worship in the lit afternoon.
We gather, silently,
under the celestial dome
emptied of all need for repentance
because we did not sin,
in confidence, I’ve been told.
A priestess of sincere smiles,
like ripe fruits, blesses herself
and tells us to bless each other,
before yielding the altar
to a choir of youth.
A spiritual joins our voices
in joyous exuberance, clapping
to unrehearsed notes, clapping
bodies swaying in the wind,
tasting the certainty of heaven
in scales flavored with honey and milk.
The celebration winds down,
the service will soon fade
–as dew by early morning rays.
I sit in quiet reverence, breathing
ecstasy, eating truth. On this day,
in the majestic simplicity of nature,
on fiery wings, I saw grace descend
onto the shoulders of earth.