For a fleeting smile
for anyone to unbutton,
I dusted off a baby doll
dressing it in aged blue,
saved a lifetime by his mother
now ashes to ashes, dust
to dust, at his father's side
in Cleveland, Ohio.

I murmured to him as I fumbled
on fourteen tiny pearl buttons,
Your mother must have
buttoned and unbuttoned these
so many times for her beautiful boy.

With love unfaded, blue like his eyes
and satin ribboned, a woolen bib and
handmade booties, a ragged hole in
one toe, unraveling seventy-five years
later, and two white threads at the neck
where she once removed the label
to keep her firstborn from fussing.