When she loves someone it’s the worst— they wake each morning to find a new button sewn to their jacket, until one day they’re covered in brightly colored bits of plastic and metal, the occasional pearl button swimming with city light. Her lovers never want to hurt her feelings, so they walk around all day looking ridiculous, constantly getting entangled with people’s scarves, dangling necklaces, loose hair. Then, they return home to her every evening with bits of the world still affixed.

People often ask why she’s sewn so many useless buttons to her dresses and sweaters. She tells them they aren’t useless. No, there’s an opening in the world where one of those buttons will fit perfectly someday. There’ll be a perfect man out there with a hole inside him just big enough for one of those buttons

She dreams of having a little girl, of naming her Coco. A name with buttonholes already built-in, so people could hook their loving fingers into her, pull her out of sadness if she fell in. Even the idea of bearing a child seems simply a process of buttoning and unbuttoning another body from herself.

They are more useful than people understand. If someone inside her apartment is very, very sad, wants to jump out the window, she buttons them to the drapes so they have time to think about things. Or if someone who loves her wants to leave, she buttons them to the floor.

If you ask her why she has buttons everywhere, she will place a button in her mouth and kiss you. If you tell her you love her, she will swallow that button whole, never let it go.

About the author

Jennifer Faylor is a poet living in New York City with her pet goldfish Edison. She has her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence…

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Issue 14 · February 2012

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