“Buttons” by Jennifer Judge


I have saved plastic daisies, wooden toggle, metal military-style, generic plastics in shades of green (kelly to teal to emerald), blue (cobalt, baby, sky), and every variation of black, gray, and white.  Pearlized, tortoise-shell.  The fragile shell ones that dotted the back of the linen dress I wore for graduation—every time I sat down, another would break.  Purple and lavender, fabric covered that bring back a long-gone blouse or skirt.  I have every extra button from every article of clothing that we have bought since 1997.

I bought a box, moved that box from a bungalow to a Victorian to the basement of another house.  I have loved buttons for a lifetime.  I like the heft of the box now, the way the contents roll and rattle and bang against its cardboard sides.

I have ironed around.  I have sewn back on.  I have changed out those I do not like.  

I like the history of a box no one knows but me.  When I die my daughters will say why did our mother keep all of these buttons.  They will throw them away.  

As it should be.

Jennifer Judge is an English professor at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Her poem “81 North” was selected for permanent inclusion in the Jenny Holzer installation For Philadelphia 2018. Her work has also been published in Sheila-Na-Gig, Plainsongs, The Fictional Cafe, Literary Mama, Under the Gum Tree, and RHINO, among others. Her second manuscript, Here’s What I Mean, earned an Honorable Mention in the 2022 Able Muse Book Competition, and her first book, Spoons, Knives, Checkbooks, is forthcoming from Propertius Press. Learn more at jenniferjudgepoet.com.