Thursday, February 25, 2010

Broken Hallelujah

 Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

It's been used in everything from Shrek to House and sung by everyone except my next door neighbor's niece's cousin-by-marriage's brother-in-law.

At least I don't think he did.

.Overused, cliche, cheap meme to suggest depth and poignancy?  Maybe.  But I think it's love.

When you--when I--fall in love, anything, everything is an excuse to talk about the loved one.  Air?  Did I mention He breathes air?  Milk?  Too easy with a new baby. Shoes?  My grandson takes his shoes off when he comes in the house. "Gotta hand it to you...."  My grand daughter has two. Hands, I mean.  Love is physical, visceral, the longing to taste a name on your lips, to bring them into every moment and space you occupy.

Poetry, music, a voice, the line of a dancer, beauty in all its guises is the same.  The song plays you, the words write you.

Love  You can love a piece of  music with the same yearning to possess and be possessed as any other love..

Jeff Beck's Hallelujah plays my heart, grieves and elates me.  When Cohen sings, I whisper the words with my lips and in my mind: it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah...And even though/It all went wrong/I'll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

I hold my lover close, trace the curve of his cheek, the line of his shoulder, play my fingers down his spine, my body bends to his.  Love is not a victory march/It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah. I know this.  I listen to him breathe, listen as I listened to my children, standing by their beds. Breathe, breathing with them, one breath follow another.


All breath stops.  It's a simple bare boned fact. They leave us, we leave them. Fact.

You always disappoint the ones you love.  Not every day, not all the time, but as inevitably as rain will come, you will hurt the ones you love. You can't unring the bell, if you rip your tongue out, the words can't be unsaid, 3:00 AM tears, and a thousand nights of kneeling on broken glass will not change one moment.

And--why should I even bother to say it?--the ones you love will disappoint you, hurt you, rip your heart out and samba on it with a partner.

The world itself will break your heart.

The poem on paper will never be what you wrote in your mind and the music you play will never be what you heard

And yet. And yet...there is the poem, a lover's touch, the baby's diaper may stink, but there is the intoxicating scent of baby, the soft gloriousness of a baby's skin.  The sunrise over Haleakala  flames with colors even if you're shivering in a jacket that isn't as warm as you thought and you the coffee's lukewarm and tastes like bad instant and the rock you're sitting on is cold--and besides rock is, well, hard as rock.

The is-ness of it all. 

Pirouettes and pratfalls.

And so  Hallelujah with every breath.

Imperfect and imperfectly. A song that sings me.

Because There's a blaze of light in every word/It doesn't matter which you heard/The holy or the broken Hallelujah.

I sleep next to my lover, hold a grandchild, my old dog slips away with one breath, then none all at the gift of the veterinarian's needle. I'll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

What else is there?  Hallelujah.

Imperfect. Flawed and failed.



  1. I went back read this again today, read it when it was originally written and it touched really touched me