The Organ Grinder

Porto’s buskers have the aura of another era shimmering at the tips of their hair. A Puppetress dances her doll up and down the cobblestones. Its joints flex at uncanny angles, as if possessed by mischievous unlife.

An Organ Grinder fresh off a page of Dickens bobs along to his hurdy-gurdy. His parrot bobs with him, crab-walking up the musician’s shoulder to give him a peck on the lips. There’s a mesmerizing intensity to the man’s trance as he turns the crank, winding himself into the wheeling music.

On a tiny chair beside him sits a child with curls like a crown of buttercups. Preternaturally still, the smiling little creature plays perch to two more of Papa’s parrots. With his blue coat and newsboy cap, those buttercup curls and eyes as blue as Portuguese tile, the child looks like a hand-tinted photograph from the days of silver gelatin prints. The organ’s wagon wheel song rolls around us, promising a ride back in time to the patchwork carnival caravan this pair wandered out of.


3 thoughts on “The Organ Grinder

  1. I can’t believe there are still there!
    I was in Porto back in late May and they were playing in the streets too at the time. The two of them and the sweetness of their relationship with each other and the birds got me standing around for nearly an hour, listening and watching.


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