They were Too Poor for Buttons


They were too poor for buttons, so her mother would collect
cherry stones, apricot kernels or conkers, and would crochet round them.
When she went cleaning she was given cast-off jumpers
which she unravelled and made up again, re-mixed, so Jean
had a cardigan blue as Quink ink, with yellow walnut buttons
and a scarlet rose in a mohair mix, that covered up a hole.

I sat beside Jean in Sunday School, admiring the silver paper
she'd saved from a cigarette packet and used to line her pencil box.
How I liked the lettuce-green of the blanket stitch around her cuffs,
but most of all, I envied her for the magic warts proud on her knuckles.