Friday, May 12, 2017

Accordion Heaven

There lived a Cajun man
who couldn’t read or write,
but he could make an accordion sing.
He’d sit on his front gallery,
prop his chair back, and pump that squeezebox
until sun gave way to dusk, to moon.
He was not a lonely man;
although, he never met a woman who could sing
as beautiful as his old Monarch.
The sound left him as breathless
as airless bellows.

When he died, an old man asleep in his bed,
the accordion lay by his side.
The parish buried him in an unmarked grave
in a corner of the Catholic cemetery.
Someone placed the scratched and arthritic
instrument in the cheap pine coffin with him.
In the evening, when moon and sun
share the heavens, you can hear
his accordion melodies float over the conflux
of earthborn souls.

I heard the melody, one Moon-filled evening,
borne upon a warm summer breeze,
weaving among the freshly white-washed tombstones.
I felt its uplifting seduction, and I knew that not only did God exist, 
he was Cajun.


I wrote this several years ago after reading an article on Nathan Abshire, "Mr. Accordion." I had also watched "The Good Times are Killing Me," a documentary on Cajun culture in which Abshire is featured. I grew up listening to Mr. Abshire's music. He was well known in Evangeline Parish. A copy of the documentary is available here. It's slow to start, but it does after a few seconds. 

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