Aviva and I were married in June, 2007, in Jerusalem. I began this poem a week after the wedding, although it still perhaps is not yet finished. On the occasion of Leonard Cohen’s 80th birthday and the release of his latest album, Popular Problems, though, I am posting the current iteration (Popular Problems can be ordered on iTunes). Happy birthday, Rav Cohen. #LeonardCohen80
Update: Leonard Cohen died at age 82, on November 7, 2016. A version of this poem revised after his death is due to come out in arc-25 sometime in 2017.
The Uninvited Poet
We invited Leonard Cohen to our wedding, but never sent the engraving.
So he arrived on a bright plastic disc in the car and the band played Hallelujah
near the end of the evening.
Did I mention that the view from the promenade
swept over the wooded valley of a monastery near an Arab village
to the walls of the Old City perched above?
On the crest of a hill on another
side, the separation wall snakes its way along indifferently.
Aviva’s ginger hair framed her face, a picture frame around us both,
as the photographer played postmodern. We stuck out our arms
through the frame, and it made us laugh so hard tears came to the eyes
of the crowd.
A father, a brother, two daughters, a mother accompanied
us to the Chupa. Aryeh danced, celebrating life, as did Mordechai, born
Michael, now a soldier. Rivkah and Julia joined Ya’el to move in a line
around us as we danced, husband and wife, for the first time,
in the Taverna on the Tayelet in Jerusalem.
The guests all sang Hallelujah.
Perhaps an old monk would have come, a poet may have greeted us
warmly, his voice deep and laugh full-throated.
Seven blessings later,
after we’d swum in the Mediterranean Ocean, our bodies rose in waves.
I hope that you are happy, whoever you are that reads these few lines
scrawled at the beach.
Aviva and I threw out the flowers my daughters
arranged so nicely. The petals started to fall; the water had begun to turn.
The memory lingered—well it was only a week, then—of how beautiful they
were, but the thought lasts forever.
Jazz plays in some dark bar
and we sway to the rhythms we call love, but the musician knows it is
the poet who came as the wedding guest we never invited.
my good friend, Mr. Cohen—though we’ve never met, should you have
felt the urge that June to attend a wedding in Jerusalem, then now I
invite you to come play us a tune.