it’s been following me around : five poems to a button


it popped out of my wallet
at the store today

when I was paying the cashier for a sandwich
and a tub of fruit salad

there it lay, mother-of-pearl pale amongst the copper and
silver coins,

my index finger swam around it,
pulling to the side, all the coins I could use

and being in a hurry, I picked up whatever was left
and shoved it back into the wallet
with the receipt

: small change, and a


it fell out a second time
with the clatter of coins
I shook from my wallet
that night at supper

(loose change is attracted to me, and since
paying at the store, the remnant
had called upon their cousins, nieces,
uncles, friends,
to come hold the fort)

this time
I picked it up

rolling it one way between my index finger and thumb,
two eyes stared out from a
translucent moon face

rolling it in the opposite direction, a colon
appeared, lost
from the shirt it had
previously punctuated

or maybe it was a jacket that now flapped its sides open
in a brisk wind, like two segments of sentence
cast astray : not quite connected

not my top or jacket, I realized
this button wasn’t mine

whose was it then?


there are sensible things to carry in wallets
like the name and number of a tow-truck company, the
receipt for a very expensive dress bought in
the wrong size, a bank card (or two), and a plaster

it was a plaster i needed most
when i accidentally
cut my finger open with a steak knife
that evening

how, who knows, we weren’t concerned with
how anyway, as the knife, hungered by the taste of medium-rare beef, went for blood
and left a gash of red,
my skin unzipped

what good is a button, then?


i’m scared of blood too,
i would like it to know,
but it refuses to come out

embarrassed, i suppose,
of its frozen terror the previous night
when it lay huddled in my wallet pocket
as i searched through crumpled receipts and banknotes for that
plaster, damnit, where’s the plaster
i always keep in here

it’s not supposed to hold me together,
i think i should tell it,
but i think it’ll still feel responsible
for that little flap of fingerskin
: a little exclamation mark of drama


ignoring its pleas for darkness
every now and then, i haul it out
from my wallet, and play with it
while i read

flip, over my finger, flip,
under, flip, over my finger, flip,

it stopped being so shy after
my flap resealed itself a few days later

maybe it’s time to give it away
to someone who’s needing a button
unable, by themselves, to
not fall into pieces


Not surreptitiously,
but so as to make the darns and patches
themselves the focus of light.

I hope to do this
over the hole in my soul
you made.

– Megan Hall

~ by translating for peas on February 16, 2010.

One Response to “it’s been following me around : five poems to a button”

  1. i don’t usually like long poems, but i really like this story.

    a lot.

    what can i say, i’m a fan. what a lovely story.

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