My tape of Leonard Cohen isn’t even really mine — I bought it many years ago at the mall for my dad but he never listened to it so I kept it. I’ve heard it so many times now that when I listen to it I don’t even need to pay attention anymore—there are no words or music, just the deep slow drone of his voice & occasional far-off guitar sound meaning nothing to me because me thoughts are always elsewhere. Jesse Legault has a copy too, he’s had it since grade eight & says it’s been the only consistent music in his life from then until now, & it’s been used so much the words are almost all rubbed off the plastic & it sounds so crackly & distant. Driving up north once late at night in my old car I let Loaring drive to keep him busy & I sat in the passenger seat looking at the moon & jesse sat in the backseat with Courtney, who I liked. She pestered him with questions all the way & poor Jesse, all he wanted to do was listen to the tape — so long Marianne said the tape, &: oooh I luv this song said Courtney.
One day during that winter when I was so down & neither of us had anything to do, I borrowed my dad’s car & picked up jesse legault & we drove around all afternoon listening to the tape — thrue heavy blue neighbourhoods & melting countryside, all the way out to Webster’s Falls where we walked around on the muddy grass & lay on the picnic tables looking up at the grey sky thru black branches & sitting in the rain. We didn’t talk much — it wasn’t like it used to be before he moved to Burlington & I used to go down to St. Catharines to visit & we were both so glad to see each other. We would walk wrapped in woollen scarves for hours around the city at night, thru crooked intersections with flashing lights & on the rusty bridge over the river, & behind the factory & the empty schoolyard — & we would sleep in the same bed & listen to records on the floor & listen to Leonard Cohen. Back then we talked, like really talked…not like now. Near the end of that bad winter, the week before I headed east & he headed west, we met in a coffee-shop to say goodbye & eat donuts on the stoop of the abandoned building by the juniper bushes in the dark, watching cop cars drive by & thinking about how long it would be until we saw each other again
(2056 Headon Forest Dr., Burlington, Ontario L7M 2M6)