Sunday, August 10, 2014

Playing the Accordion

The Accordion Player
—Painting by Vladimir Fomin, 2004

A love of music, nearly perfect pitch—without knowing it he had a gift to play the accordion.  He even loved that sort of music—polkas and tangos, beer hall music—and had he begun to play, he might have been among the best.  But the idea never occurred to him and no one suggested it.  Not that he was a failure.  He had a good job, an adoring family, but his successes were not like those he might have had if he had played the accordion.  Mediocre lawyers with the exact hands of surgeons, painters who should have been poets—how often does a person take a wrong turn or doesn't find the right one?  A decent life lived by default while the triumphant goes begging.  One day a man looked in a shop window and saw the accordion: black enamel, ivory keys, mother-of-pearl buttons.  His breath quickened and he nearly went inside, but he had someplace important to get to, so he turned up his collar and hurried away.

—Stephen Dobyns