Buttons

By JESSICA ADAMS

In a long, low building with a tin roof, people from this village turn clamshells into buttons. Beyond the broken windows lie middens of clamshells, punctuated with precise and uniform holes. The gravel mixes with broken shells and thick, pale unfinished buttons. There will be no work here until May, when the surf clams have again grown large enough to harvest. For now the workers are in Ensenada and San Diego, crewing on fishing boats, washing dishes in restaurants. It is a quiet afternoon. A boy is playing under a lime tree. Red and brown mountains rise up behind the gravel yard. There are buttons scattered over the graves at the other end of the village. The button factory is owned by a Japanese company, and, year after year, the finished buttons are exported to Japan. In a store carrying necessary items, in a town on that far-away coast, a woman’s fingers brush the polished calcium sewn to the front of a blue wool coat.

Buttons

Related Posts

Quarters

BEINA XU
I live in the wrong colonial quarter of Berlin. My neighborhood is called Afrikanisches Viertel, and my flat is on Guinea Street. There’s Kongostraße, Togostraße, Kamerunerstraße, Transvaalstraße, Sansibarstraße, Otawistraße—I could go on, but you could also just Google Germany’s colonial conquest of Africa.

Magic Mile

CAROLYN OLIVER
The track is too slick, too cold. As the preacher intones Let us drive fast and cheer hard in Jesus’ name amen, the mist is already falling over us, the drivers, the life flight helicopter at rest on its helipad over the rise. Engines fire and the air goes thick with pressure. In minutes the leaders spin into the wall’s invisible give.

Small plants grow outside the window of a house. The window frame is white, with paint that is peeling slightly.

What the Midwest Was Like

JENNIFER S. CHENG
For months I cared for my plant: watered it, brought in light, cleaned its jar. I noted with pleasure when new leaves began to sprout. The capillary green that unfolded overnight. I watched its roots mingle and spread, tracing against the glass.