Oh Mr Cohen

A poem for Chantal Lammertyn, considering the words and influence of Leonard Cohen.

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Oh Mr Cohen -!
we could have had such a fine time if we stepped out
me on your arm like a geisha
the words around us dancing like monarch butterflies
you looking sharp with the hat and your neat step
over the puddles; stopping to contemplate the weight
of the soul in water and how love can rise
like a bubble and sink like a stone.
The perfect phrase hangs just out of reach –
a baby’s foot so soft we stroke its’ sole and toes
like cherries pulled into our mouths with the juices streaming
but oh what a baptism over our nice clothes!
Our friends will love us anyroad
waving from the party with cigarettes and wine
their articulate fingers –
Neruda and Walcott, Chantal Lammertyn …
And my heart is bursting with happiness
as all the time the conversation flows
I’m alive and Chantal did not break her neck
down the well but is writing to me still –
My little firefly, my Caribbean songbird –
and from this cold white tomb where I assemble these notes
Lorca peels himself from the walls and says
It’s worth the sacrifice. It’s worth the sacrifice.

Maggie Harris is a poet and an author. Regional Winner, Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014. Winner, Guyana Prize for Literature 2014.

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