A Jar of Buttons

‘from the floor of the Sea of Mending’ /

This is from a core sample
from the floor of the Sea of Mending,

a cylinder packed with shells
that over many years

sank through fathoms of shirts—
pearl buttons, blue buttons—

and settled together
beneath waves of perseverance,

an ocean upon which
generations of women set forth,

under the sails of gingham curtains,
and, seated side by side

on decks sometimes salted by tears,
made small but important repairs.

Ted Kooser is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet who served as the United States poet laureate from 2004 to 2006. This poem is taken from Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004) and used with permission.

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Also in this Issue

Issue 15 / February 5, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. The Ultimate Law of the Universe: Grace

    The paradox is that we fulfill it by letting go. /

  3. Windows of Vision

    The remarkable ways creation—God’s and ours—allows us to see what we cannot visually see. /

  4. Poetic Justice at the Red Sea

    A scholar explains what happened at the great biblical event. /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff

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