Neil Coppen

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Of Impossible Yearning

December9

Sunday morning and I sit on a bench in La-Paz , watch a Plaza market rising. Ignoring the persistence of shoe shine boys ( and this takes some dedication) I set about enjoying a welcome splash of Andean sun. The traders are arriving, setting up their stores: strange looking local women in Pippi long stocking braids, bowler hats and bright Bolivian shawls. As they unpack their wares, a blind man tick, tick ticks his walking stick to the centre of the Plaza, puts down a tin and starts up on his Accordian. Fingers buckling, face feeling every inch of the lament. A sound of impossible loss. As he plays, an elderly Gentleman, decked in impeccable Sunday best, sits down beside me. The man is not perplexed when he notices my tears, rather sympathetically,even casually, extends his handkerchief. As if he understands all to well what wells of yearning such sounds are capable of inciting . Tears I shed for a sound so familiar. Makes one miss home, miss Rich most of all. Miss his midnight dirges, consoling a sea side city at odd and secret hours. There is an Accordion man for every town I visit. An omen if I may see them as such. Usually an elderly man, crumpled hat, a plastic flower protruding from top pocket. Each plays a song as tragic and beautiful as the last. They are of the same ilk, the same solitary brother hood. Watched over by Saint Ricardo- the omniscient melancholic. Contributing a few coins to their cause is an honour and sadly all I can do.

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