Loved the metal box full of buttons
I laid out carefully
to admire the different colours,
the different shapes and sizes.
Some were very old
cut from outfits long gone.
I thought she should remember them
but she would never say,
only that she cut them from clothes discarded
in case she needed to replace those lost,
buttons were expensive back then.
I found a silvery chain
with a broken clasp
that glistened and gleamed
as I wrapped it round my fingers.
She said she couldn’t remember where she wore it.
I didn’t believe her, it was too beautiful to forget.
Then there were the discarded ornaments
that had once been on show,
presents from seaside places, so they said,
but it was the photographs I liked best.
Pictures of family I’d never met,
pictures of family I never would meet.
Now, I only remember the one of three young women,
my auntie and her sisters.
They were sitting on a wall with the sea behind them,
perhaps they had just bought one of the ornaments.
My auntie told me that people had said:
“just look at our Mary, showing her ankles!”
“I was very. daring”, she told me smiling.
I couldn’t that imagine the prim lady
in her always blue dresses
had ever been daring,
but she had hidden the picture away
because she thought it revealed too much.
On later visits I would always ask
to look in the ‘bits and pieces’ drawer
but it was never allowed again.
Perhaps it had already revealed too much.