It's true that all the men you knew were dealers who said they were through with dealing every time you gave them shelter. I know that kind of man. It's hard to hold the hand of anyone who's reaching for the sky just to surrender.
And sweeping up the jokers that he left behind you'll find he did not leave you very much not even laughter. Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another. He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.
And then leaning on your window-sill he'll say one day you caused his will to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter. And taking from his wallet an old schedule of trains, he'll say, I told you when I came I was a stranger.
But now another stranger seems to want you to ignore his dreams, as though they were the burden of some other. You've seen that man before, his golden arm dispatching cards, but now it's rusted from the elbows to the finger. And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter. He wants to trade the game he knows for shelter.
You hate to see another tired man lay down his hand, like he was giving up the Holy Game of Poker. And while he talks his dreams to sleep, you notice there's a highway that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder.
You tell him to come in, sit down, but something makes you turn around. The door is open. You cannot close your shelter. You try the handle of the road. It opens. Do not be afraid. It's you, my love, it's you who are the stranger.
I've been waiting. I was sure we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for, I think it's time to board another. Please understand I never had a secret chart to get me to the heart of this, or any other matter. Well, he talks like this, you don't know what he's after. When he speaks like this, you don't care what he's after.
Let's meet tomorrow if you choose, upon the shore, beneath the bridge, that they are building on some endless river. Then he leaves the platform for the sleeping car that's warm, you realize, he's only advertising one more shelter. And it comes to you, he never was a stranger. And you say, "OK, the bridge, or someplace later."
And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind, you find he did not leave you very much, not even laughter. Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another. He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.
And leaning on your window-sill, he'll say one day you caused his will to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter. And then taking from his wallet an old schedule of trains he'll say, I told you when I came I was a stranger.
Copyright © Leonard Cohen
and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada Company
Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.