Button My Lip

Viewing “A Field of Buttons,” a painting by Tom Rogers

That creamy yellow one, I'm sure came from
 my lover's blouse -- she yanked it open to expose the
tops of her breasts, puckered the button between her lips,
taunted me to bite it from her with my teeth.
And so I, well, later --

Oh no! That slippery emerald green button washed ashore
in Positano, Italy, the day after the squid fisherman drowned
while trying to save his boat in the storm.

If only Lee Harvey Oswald had had a shirt that
took too long to button
too long to button.

You know that fire-headed dancer? She popped the pink buttons --
angrily ripped off and threw her costume at
the choreographer who was sleeping with the male lead.

Buttons. Who has the shirt the silver one graced?
Who buttoned up Napoleon?
Who unbuttons, who unbuttons you?

Don't be fooled by the lavender one -- if you slip
through the holes you'll be smelling the sulphurous
breath of the devil and want to escape into
that fetal pose inside the Virgin Mary.

What you don't smell in these buttons are the
peaches we stole from the roadside tree in Yakima, Washington.

But, oh -- how sweet the aroma, delicious the taste,
my ears swelling in revelry when I pressed my head
to the button-less bosom of my lover and
listened to the radio in her chest, all night long.

--James Ciletti, 2006