He Danced with Accordion Lungs
for N’onc Moi upon his passing 9/1/00
He danced with accordion lungs--
pumped la musique cadienne through his body
until black notes oozed from the pores,
and danced about like saucy cayenne.
The acrid aroma seared the nose hairs,
tasted like drunken Cajuns
waltzing to “Jolie Blonde.”
No, more like jitterbugging
to The Mamou Playboys.
When the hurricane came to
the trees tico tico’d to and fro
in a wind that decimated the Gulf coast.
“Mais, mon p’tit,” my uncle loved to say
in cases like these. “If it wasn’t for
hurricanes the trees would never dance.”
When the aerophone gale of blackness
swept through Chataignier like a can can,
kicking up my uncle’s shiny black dancing shoes,
he flew through the air after them like Terpsichore.
Little June tried to catch his N’onc Moi,
but could not snatch the airy spirit
from the watery washboard sky.
Il voyage tout partout, mais il reste a sa maison en terre.
The accordion whispers, “Don’t drop the potato”
but only in Cajun. The music notes rise
up and up, abbandono, but my uncle’s
lungs sing no more.
I have always felt that my Uncle Moise Brasseaux was the quintessential Cajun. He loved good food, good times, good music, and the Cajun culture. This is for all the Brasseauxs who are now gone: Tante Not, N'onc Moi, Melissa, Darrell, Russell. May you all dance together with accordion lungs. A version of this poem first appeared in the Southern Indiana Review.