You will likely read this and assume I'm writing autobiography, and in a way, I am. My grandmother did have a wonderful tin of buttons; shaped by the Great Depression, she saved every button before using the cloth from worn out clothes for other purposes. I have no idea what happened to that button tin.
She did have beautiful hydrangea bushes. I have often wished I saved some of the soil that she created by composting, but I didn't. I don't have her soil on the mantel, but I have lots of other artifacts that remind me of times long gone.
In the end, so little is left
behind: a tin filled with every button
that ever came into the house,
a hydrangea bush blooming blue
in someone else’s back yard.
I sew a button onto one seam
of each garment in my own closet, a hidden
token to remind me of you.
Some might keep ashes,
but I dig from your compost patch,
the place where you buried
the scraps left from every meal you ever ate.
You followed the almanac’s instructions,
but I don’t have that resource.
I blend your Carolina dirt
with the sandy soil that roots
my mango tree.
Some of it I keep in a jar
that once held Duke’s mayonnaise.
I place it on the mantel
of the fireplace I rarely use,
to keep watch with a half burned
candle and a shell
from a distant vacation.