Preorder the Memphis Music Issue TODAY and lock in an exclusive limited-edition vinyl record!

Become A Member Shop Login

Illustration by Jym Davis

Elegy for an Accordion

That ribbed black box that could be coaxed to croon
by surer hands than ours—where did it come from?
From whose family history? Was it in tune?
I must have been the one who brought it home
from some estate sale or bric-a-brac store.
Wherever I bought it, whatever I paid
for its pearl and filigree, I’m sure I spent more
than I should have, swayed by its beauty and swayed
by my wanting to please. My husband, who could 
play anything, who’d asked for one, shelved it 
in the guest room, where its bellows choked with dust. 
We were young. Our marriage was never good.

 Listen to Chelsea Rathburn read “Elegy for an Accordion”

Unable to embed Rapid1Pixelout audio player. Please double check that:  1)You have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.  2)This web page does not have any fatal Javascript errors.  3)The audio-player.js file of Rapid1Pixelout has been included.

Enjoy this poem? Subscribe to the Oxford American.

Chelsea Rathburn

Chelsea Rathburn is the author of two books of poetry, A Raft of Grief and The Shifting Line. She lives in the mountains of North Georgia, where she directs the creative writing program at Young Harris College.