aged 7-59 years
The POETICS of reflection….
I was seven years old when I first started to listen to Leonard Cohen on long playing records (1967). We lived in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at the time. Before that we had lived in Aukland New Zealand and originally we had been in London and Devon in England. There’d been a lot of moving around in my short life. Not much was stable except for the make shift dens that I’d create underneath each of our latest dinning room tables. No matter what the housing circumstances or the country we were attempting to reside in there was always a sheet to throw over the table. It was under the table there, in my make shift home, that I could cosy up and close myself down from the overwhelm of what seemed like permanent disruption.
The other constant in my life was Leonard Cohen’s voice as he delivered his poetry. I’d play his tracks over and over again to hear his resonance. Continuously lifting the needle off and on the black vinyl to try to catch the words, I would then, extremely patiently attempt to write them down. It would have been a very slow process for anyone so young as I was. It was especially slow for me as I was ill equipped, having had so much disruption up to that point in life. By the time I was seven it had become apparent that I was seriously behind at school. I had attended six schools in three continents by that time and an academic educational wasn’t high on my priorities. Finding my way to the cloakroom or my house from school was fundamental as was being able to sense which adults were good, helpful and to be trusted and which ones were extremely dangerous and to be avoided at all costs. Navigating my way through the never ending emotional chaos and continually changing geographies had been my main priority, much more important than learning the three Rs.I loved Leonard Cohens words. I could feel them. They touched me deeply and made a lot of sense to me – even to my young and inexperienced self. They made a kind of sense that I’d not yet found else where in my short life. They resonated and I held on to them when all around was forever shifting.
I’m not sure whether my mother was disturbed by the continuous scratchings of record player needle on black plastic as I lifted and replaced it in a precarious and possibly damaging way, or whether she pitied me for my frustratingly devoted efforts but either way she came to my (or the record’s!) rescue. Maybe she simply wanted to help me out with my task and connect with me in the process… What ever her reasons were, she’d sometimes engage in the mission with me painstakingly listening to a line, noting it down in her secretaries flip pad in short hand and then later transcribing those curls and dots and lines into long hand words for me.
I loved that she did this for me because I needed a way to keep his words and energy close to me so it could grow it inside of me.
I loved his poetry then and I love it now.
Today a friend posted some of his words on her facebook page:
‘I greet you from the other side of sorrow and despair
with a love so vast and shattered it will reach you everywhere…‘ Leonard Cohen
The words resonated with me. They were timely – so very timely.
Deeply moved – at the age of 59 I was once again transported back into the depths of Leonard Cohen. It was a sort of home coming. An absolute delight.