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 


Miscellaneous Poems