Volume 30, Number 4


Sam Provenzano


My name is Francisco Esparta, and I’ve been playing accordion for thirty- three years. I play mostly music from my homeland, which is Spain, but I love gypsy music from all cultures, so I sometimes play my favorite gypsy melodies from memory. I’ve played for parties, weddings, and at restaurants, but lately I’ve been playing in the streets of New York for anyone who likes my playing. People often leave me tips and make requests of music they wish to hear. Many of the requests are American tunes which I’ve never heard. They leave me tips anyway.

Lately a dog has begun to follow me home after I’ve been playing. He is a medium-sized dog, and he is gold with black whiskers. I live on the second floor of a building; it is an apartment above a grocery store. When I look out my window, down at the street below after I’ve been playing all day, the dog is gone. But he shows up to where I play each day, and he sits by my side quietly when I play. He seems to enjoy the sound of the accordion and the music it makes. Though I don’t play in the same place each day, the dog continues to find me, and he waits patiently until I’m finished for the day.


My dear friend who has passed away called me Corazón. He gave me food and shelter for all the years we were together. He played music on a box- shaped thing like this stranger plays. It brings me peace to hear this music again. Sometimes I cry at night because I miss my friend so much. This stranger seems to know and play the same songs my friend used to play. It brings me back happiness to hear these sounds again. I wish I could tell the stranger how grateful I am for reminding me that we have much to live for.

The other day, when this new stranger finished for the day, as he packed up, he reached out his hand to me and when I drew close, he patted my head. No one has patted my head in such a long time and, though I was afraid and I felt a growl in my throat, I let him pet me. He gave me a piece of cheese and a hunk of bread. I watched the stranger’s eyes, and it seemed to me he was very kind. He spoke to me gently and though I didn’t understand the words, I’m sure he intended to be my friend. I thanked him with a lick on his hand. After he wiped his hand on his pants, he patted my head again.


Today, as I played in a new location, there was a larger group of people than usual who stopped to hear me play. One man set his hat upside down on the ground before me, and people began to fill the hat with not only coins, but paper bills as well. The dog watched as people stepped forward and placed the money in the hat. He seemed to understand because he wagged his tail each time someone new gave money. Many of the people seemed happy; the sun was shining. One young couple began to dance, and then another, and before long, there were many couples dancing to my music.

The dog became very excited as he watched the people dance and at one point, he began to make a high-pitched sound in his throat. It did not sound like an angry sound or a bark, but like an attempt to sing with my music. What made it so special was that he seemed to be listening closely enough to be in tune with the music. When I looked at him, I swear he was smiling. As I listened to his sounds, I found myself humming audibly with him. After the tune was over, a young woman stepped out of the crowd and placed a bowl of water before him. He went to it and drank the entire bowl.


My new friend played even more beautifully today, and people were dancing. I found myself singing along with his melodies, and he began singing too. When I followed my friend home tonight, after his performance, he invited me into his home. I was reluctant at first, but he insisted and once inside, he gave me a bowl of water and a bowl of food, which was delicious. I didn’t realize how hungry I was. After I ate and drank my fill, he sat on the floor next to me and patted me. He spoke softly to me until I fell asleep. I slept better than I had slept in a long time. It was a relief to be off the streets and safe.

When I awoke the next morning, my new friend let me out and, soon after, he came outside with his music box, and I followed him to a busy street corner where he played for people passing by. Many people, who seemed to be in such hurry one moment, stopped abruptly when they heard him play. The faces of those who listened changed dramatically after a few moments. People seemed less frantic and more at peace, and the transformation was almost immediate. One of the passers by, a beautiful young woman with re-red hair and laughing dark eyes, came to me and gave me a delicious bone, and she said my name.


Last night, I brought the dog inside. He was very well-mannered and, though he seemed a little uncertain at first, he soon made himself at home. I’m not sure how long he has lived in the streets, but he seems very grateful for every small kindness. I’m finding that his companionship has given new meaning to my life. When I look into his eyes, I see an ever growing trust as well as something I’m a little afraid to name. It’s as though he reads my thoughts. He requires nothing of me, but he is constantly focused on me.

Last evening, as we were finishing up for the day, an attractive red-haired woman brought a huge bone to the dog. As he gently took it from her, she came to me.

“You have a beautiful dog”, she said. “What’s his name?”

Her question stopped me; it had never occurred to me to name the dog or that he was “my” dog. In fact, I thought of him as my equal, and neither of us belonged to each other. We were friends who had found each other.

“He’s a stray,” I said. “I haven’t named him yet. What do you think I should name him?”

Her eyes sparkled as she thought for a moment. “Well,” she said, “his eyes are very emotional, so he has a lot of heart and you look and sound Spanish. How about something Spanish and passionate, Corazón?

The dog’s ears immediately stood upright.

“Ah, yes,” I said. “Corazón is the perfect name for him. He seems to like it as well.”


The woman with the red hair came to my friend’s home tonight carrying a bag. She prepared dinner for my friend, and they shared their food with me. I heard my friend call the woman Rose. I still wonder how she knew my name. Rose called my friend Francisco. After we all ate, they asked me to sit and then they asked me to shake hands with them. They laughed as I obeyed each of their commands. At one point, I had to relieve myself, so I scratched at the door. They praised me and patted me and then they let me out. When I finished, I scratched at the door, and they let me in.

I sat in a corner as they drank red liquid from long stem glasses. Francisco took out his music box and began to play, and Rose removed a black box from her purse and assembled a long tubular musical instrument; she began to play music with Francisco, and it was so lovely, I began to sing. When we were done, Francisco said we were the Corazón trio. I thought then, and I believe now that humans could be so much more of what they are if they could just stop trying to be so many things that they’re not. My heart was full. I found myself lying with my head between my front paws.