John’s Head Upstairs

John Malkovich’s head lives upstairs.

After midnight, every night, invariably he plays with his collection of buttons.

He has them of all shapes and colours. Some green and others honey orange, yellow, blue, bluish or bluer, flaming red or burgundy, or red like the blood of an ox. There are black and white ones, also black ones and white ones, pale ones, almost-translucent ones, the-membranes-of-a-frog ones, ones with geometric acetate lace. Some are polished to a sheen and others have rather dotty dots. There are some striped like the zebra and some of fabric, of coffee and milk, hot chocolate and clove and a pile of marshmallows. Curly walnut and filled with raspberry jam. Turquoise with ruby, chryselephantine embroidery, Flemish lace. Droplet of amber in a sunny frill of taffeta in yellow and orange. Curt cotton crimping. And round, squared, oval, triangular, rectangular, trapezoidal, shaped like diamonds, like cat’s eyes, spiralled and trebled, dark galaxies, black holes like the flared nostrils of building administrators downtown. Like cornets, or cinnamon logs. Some resemble cherries, all with stalks and lightning bolts, or fireworks, or what remains after tea. The fluff of stuff, too, and of wine and ink. Buttons like the Christmas dreams of a little boy and buttons like the end-of-year nightmares of my grandfather. Buttons that are not buttons: buttons that are nuzzles and buttons that are promises of new buttons.

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