I've been very busy doing what summers always make me do: re-read. I've fished out the Chronicles of Narnia for my son and for myself The Dark Is Rising series (I don't have Silver On The Tree; Aishwarya, you listening?)
But this post by Rahul reminded me of something that was given me as a gift a long time ago.
At the Institute, for a few months, at least, the crustimony proseedcake after dinner was to gather under the Wisdom Tree (I know, right?) and confab. One editor, I discovered, had a taste in books that chimed with my own. So we hung out a fair amount, and a month or so later, when my birthday rolled around, I was delighted to get, as a gift, a xeroxed copy of Leonard Cohen's Poems 1956-1968.
And to think I'd forgotten about it for the last 14 years!*
Here's the last poem in the edition I have:
You Live Like A God
You live like a god
somewhere behind the names
I have for you,
your body made of nets
my shadow's tangled in,
your voice perfect and imperfect
like oracle petals
in a herd of daisies.
You honour your own god
with mist and avalanche
but all I have
is your religion of no promises
and monuments falling
like stars on a field
where you said you never slept.
Shaping your fingernails
with a razorblade
and reading the work
like a Book of Proverbs
no man will ever write for you,
a discarded membrane
of the voice you use
to wrap your silence in
drifts down the gravity between us,
and some machinery
of our daily life
prints an ordinary question in it
like the Lord's Prayer raised
on a rollered penny.
Even before I begin to answer you
I know you won't be listening.
We're together in a room,
it's an evening in October,
no one is writing our history.
Whoever holds us here in the midst of a Law,
I hear him now
I hear him breathing
as he embroiders gorgeously our simple chains.
Now I'm going to have to fish out one of my precious finds from the pavement, a copy of the naked i: fictions for the seventies, which has a piece by Cohen in it. Summer has its compensations.
*Come to think of it, our year at the Institute was a very Leonard Cohen year. At least two song picturisations were Cohen; many evenings were spent listening to Cohen and Bach. No, Kuntal?