Button Baby’s Response to the Mysteries of Life


It was written on a piece of paper found in the pocket of the used Levis he bought
on Thursday. “The moon, too, sports a dog.”
He decided to see if a blacksmith could explain it to him. “I would prefer to be
feeding little children to hungry bears,” said the blacksmith, “but I will think about your
problem. It will not provide an easy solution, for the word ‘sports’ is very contemporary
indeed.” And with that the blacksmith went back to his anvil where he was pounding out
the dents in a pair of biker earrings.
Button Baby asked his friend Alfalfa and Alfalfa sprouted saying, “Listen to the
wind.” So Button Baby followed the wind to a friendly dike at The Underground and the
dike said, “Don’t we all?” So Button Baby asked Lucy the Clever Errand Dog and Lucy
brought him a pair of sunglasses and a water pistol. Button Baby asked The Bible Man
who stood on the corner and The Bible Man thumped not his bible but his own thick
forehead, saying, “Are we too not among the needful?”
Blood-thirsty mosquitoes were hovering near Button Baby’s head. He removed the
fish scraps from his pockets, but it didn’t impress the mosquitoes. He thought maybe a
maritime tailor could explain this discrepancy to him. The tailor was wearing a bracelet
of thorns on his wrist, but he answered reasonably. “Would you like then some lovely
cranberries?” Button Baby had heard of the method of teaching in which the teacher
answered a question with another question, but it didn’t seem to help. He thought about
how blood was red and cranberries were red and he thought about how they were both
wet and sticky and he thought about Thanksgiving and cranberries and how his blood
relatives lived far far away and he was very very thankful, for they were truly
bloodsuckers and made the mosquitoes seem almost erotic by contrast. But it did not help
him solve his mystery.
And lo, a clandestine seal-eyed sloth of a prophet appeared in the middle of this
modern world of ours and he be jivin’ on the sidewalk and he be sayin’, “I once lived in
the city of No Thank You until the back of morning anticipated my competition with an
emptiness divided by thirty-four brothers and I saw the light and I said, ‘Which one,
brother, which one?'”
Then Button Baby wore a little hat like a marker on his hunkered head. “And
something I am not is there to greet me,” he thought. “It feels transitional,” thought
Button Baby wistfully, but to what? He put a title on his under-hunkered forehead and
ushered himself forth. The title read: Why Are You Still Doing This?
And Button Baby imbibed mightily and sprawled (let us be generous)
languorously, with an unconscious tilt, his title still vivid on his forehead, and he tried to
explain to himself in the middle of it all, “Some things I did were described by the baby
man I found in my dreams and it seemed as if I had already done them. It seemed as if
that made it more exciting. I was interested in the excitement. I was going to do some
things to find it. The man’s skin was cold. It excited me. He told me I could have
whatever I wanted. I didn’t know what I wanted. I tried a lot of things and I still didn’t
know what I wanted. I thought I would share a certain empathy with the man, but it was not the empathy I had been expecting. It was not the same fun that I had been expecting
in this feeling sorry for him. It was something that was not like the something that I was
And when a smart-assed skateboarding semi-paraplegic apostle echoed by, way
way outside the dream, Button Baby was again no longer awake to hear him say,
“Because the moon sports a dog and the planets sport dogs and we’re all little planets and
we each of us sports a dog. That’s just the way it is. Get a clue, dude.” And the apostle
shrugged and shook his shaggy head like an overwrought Beagle and wheeled himself
spryly away to his surprisingly cherished little snotlings of yellow childwealth.
“A change in the discussion would be nice now,” thought Button Baby, no longer
sporting anything identifiable at all (he really did think that), “even if it’s thoroughly
inappropriate,” but then Button Baby’s been collecting his thoughts for a lifetime and
Button Baby finds it difficult to fit into the container which still contains him.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.