Today is the second anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death. When I go to the Mount Royal cemetery to photograph nature, I stop at an adjacent cemetery to visit his grave site.
Almost every time, I see someone arriving at, lingering at, or leaving his site. Last month I met a woman, named Lise, who had come all the way from Houston, Texas just to visit his grave and lay some flowers.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I unexpectedly encountered others at his site that were very meaningful to me. It was a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets flitting about in the grass.
Sixty years ago, the renowned Canadian artist James Fenwick Lansdowne painted a pair of these kinglets and shortly afterwards I received a card of this painting and instantly fell in love with these tiny birds with their orange and yellow “crowns”. I’ve been in love with them ever since but have only caught fleeting glimpses of them high in trees. Now, at this place and this time, these birds gave me the chance to see them close up in full display.
This special moment has inextricably linked my favorite bird with my favorite poet and moved me to write the following poem:
COHEN AND KINGLETS
Many times, I stand by your grave -
I even sometimes sing -
then one October afternoon
I saw a wondrous thing.
Around your grave site marker there,
adorned with stones and words,
there fluttered in the windswept grass
a flock of tiny birds.
My best-loved bird for sixty years,
these kinglets came to you –
my best-loved poet who returned
my life to me renewed.
I felt such exultation for
that you and I and kinglets were
now linked exquisitely.
The birds flickered like tiny sparks -
their crowns so gold and bright -
your poetry of birds and flames
had somehow come to life.
And tho' you lie 'neath frozen ground,
and I must stand above,
I feel a deep connection here
and sense the warmth of love.