Buttons

I found a boxful in our kitchen

on the shelf

reserved for spices and sweetmeats.

Rattling like tambourines,

they had been mistaken for hard candies

and pushed

way to the back

along with wizened nutmegs

and a bottle of vanilla extract.

Lifting the lid,

I stirred the disks with a finger.

One on the bottom

caught my nail,

a curio from the Early Iron Age,

like something found in a Danish peat bog,

now ruined by the slow burning of rust.

Were those holes for threading?

Pewter heirlooms,

tortoise-shell keepsakes,

mother-of-pearl

from my daughter's

first pair of patent-leather shoes,

enameled ivory,

treasures from the five-and-dime,

which never fastened anything,

amber ellipsoids,

cast brass with rhinestones,

wafers of gilded Bohemian glass,

and one pin-back touting Alf Landon

for president.

The last to be looked at,

a medallion,

cerulean blue,

of clay and shellac,

was etched with an apple,

a reminder

that there were no buttons in Eden,

not even bellybuttons.

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