Accordion Music

Les Murray

A backstrapped family Bible that consoles virtue and sin,
for it opens top and bottom, and harps both out and in:

it shuffles a deep pack of cards, flirts an inverted fan
and stretches to a shelf of books about the pain of man.

It can play the sob in Jesus!, the cavernous baastards note,
it can wheedle you for cigarettes or drop a breathy quote:

it can conjure Paris up, or home, unclench a chinstrap jaw
but it never sang for a nob’s baton, or lured the boys to war.

Underneath the lone streetlight outside a crossroads hall
where bullocks pass and dead girls waltz and mental gumtrees fall

two brothers play their plough-rein days and long-gone spoon-licked nights.
The fiddle stitching through this quilt lifts up in singing flights,

the other’s mourning, meaning tune goes arching up and down
as life undulates like a heavy snake through the rocked accordion.