Andre Mangeot


Pounds of them, hissing from the tin like shells,
boardgame counters, childhood pouring to the floor
between us. Down on our knees - smoothing out,

sifting through - I see you smile and know you're
back there too: where days had certainty, and love
and rules. "O.K', she says, "the idea is

to pick a button for yourself and then
one ach for those important in your lives.
The twins; your parents; brothers, sisters, friends.

Choose your own - don't let the other see -
and when you're done, arrange them in whatever
pattern comes, feels natural. We'll talk it through,

find where you agree. Maybe rearrange
your buttons then - compare things as they are
with how you'd like to be..." And back to back

(the hot room silent save a clicking blind)
we're soon immersed. Instinct's what I want to
trust: to feel and not to think. But it's hard.

All judgement's coloured by these discs of jet
and bone; leather, stone and wood; their plastic shine.
Pressed to hold things fast, secure; now hollow-eyed.

My trawl brings up a red and gold that catch
the kids. A green to match your sea-deep eyes.
For me - a glint of steel, a misfiled paperclip...

A man walks by outside. I see him glance,
you catch his eye. And in that look, the time
his shadow takes to cross the room, I sense

again that all this healing's out the window.
The past is with us in each head you turn -
still here, eating up my pride, our love, with fear.

"In all my years I've rarely seen a couple
mirror one another quite like this," her voice
breaks through. "No-one's ever stacked their buttons

up before. You both have. As if you'd like
to thread them back together, tight. If two
people ever want the same things, then it's you

Perhaps we've tried too hard. To size things up,
to shape up well. Not everything can be
re-sewn, made to fit exactly as it did...

I watch her scoop them up. Seal down the lid.
From where have they all come, to wash up here:

each one a button lost, replaced, unmissed?

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