The Button Tin

Is there not

in buttons

a kind of immortality?


Time and again

in ancient digs,

it’s buttons and brooches

of bone and bronze

they find:

changeless design.


We never forget familiar fastenings.

Thumb and finger learn

a manual pas de deux –

the push and slip –

to button…and un-button,

instinctively remembering

               flat, black discs from the belted gabardine,

               prim, stalked baubles, a row along the wrist

                           of that evening’s satin glove,

               slivers of opalescent pearl, like slices of fruit

                           seeded with four holes, adorning a light chemise,

               leather toggles on one week-end’s county tweed,

               even the thin, vestigial things once worried on a closed seam.


In buttons,

is there not too

a kind of memory bequeathed?


            You, who cherish

            gowns and blouses

            gleaned from camphor

            and dried lavender,

            will know

            the push and slip,

            the loop of time

            played on buttons

            by fingers before yours.


And know, therefore,

in buttons

immortality in kind.



 David Matthews

10th April 2005    

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