Word for Wednesday: Button

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Buttons have been in use for 1000's of years and are very much taken for granted in our everyday lives. Most use them without a second thought.

Originally used as a practical closure for garments or bags, they have evolved into digital variations on our computers, phones and other electronic appliances. Some are used by artisans to create wonderful fashion accessories.

According to Online Etymology, the word 'button' originates from the Old French 'bouton' from 'bouter' meaning 'to thrust' and the Germanic 'butt' meaning 'thick end'.

A tin of old buttons can captivate young and old for hours on end. Find one from a military uniform once worn by a distant relative, or another from mother's wedding dress and it is easy to understand how a humble button can evoke strong emotions.

225 Buttons

Remember Grandma's button tin?
Stand on the arm of the settee and you can just reach it
Where it hides among the silver fish
Spread the newspaper on the floor
Smell the memories trapped inside, then pour!

Clatter, clatter as the rainbow cascades
Spread the treasure with both hands and search the sharpened eyes
A penny-farthing, a faded ribbon, a medal from a long forgotten hero, a slide that held your mummy's curly locks
Nestled with the echoes of the worn out shirts and frocks

Find me a gold one, or silver, or jet
Let's sort them by colour
How many 'the same' ones can you get?
You do boy's ones and I'll do girl's, I've got twins, no triplets!
And all of them are pearls!

'How long have you been playing there?'
Choose a favourite button, hold in your tiny palm
And remember the game we most adore
Just listen while Grandma makes a story
About the dress that the button once wore!

by Julie MacDermott

20 Jan 2016
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