Mark Dion, Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacy, Manchester Museum, 2005.
Casein buttons destroyed by rats in a Manchester warehouse.
Button Box, by Jon Glover
For Pat Winslow
Almost sacred. A collection jilted
from some heaven, or an island
lined with tusks and whalebone.
Seafarers just in black and white.
An economy in slivers of shell,
mother of pearl, dull plastic. Rustling
as the lid twists off. And like a bank
with coins set out for you to plunge
your fingers into, to ruffle through,
to warm, the buttons were there so deep
and invaluable because they were
for no other use. Saving for the blitz?
For the dead? From the dead? For brave
cut out clothes, cold dolls? Something
female and unfathomable? For repairs
that might hold us together, like a shirt
to be made respectable again. Shut in,
shut down. Like the breathless milk teeth
stored at the back of a bedroom drawer.