Friday, July 26, 2019


Glass Cages

I think of you this morning when a dove
hurtles into the window. Brief image

of himself as other before he crumples
against glass that looks like open sky.

An unhinging of wings. Invisible
shattering. Pearly drift of feathers

across the patio. Two doves flutter
back and forth in constant cortege

while he patiently attends his dying.
His cries, camouflaged so softly.

Margo Button

This sad and beautiful poem is from a slim book titled The Unhinging of Wings, which Vancouver Island poet Margo Button wrote about her beloved son Randall Button. Randall slipped into schizophrenia at twenty, though he wasn't diagnosed until much later. He ultimately committed suicide at 26, a devastating blow to a mother's heart.

Each poem in this beautiful volume speaks of his mother’s grief as she watched her son slipping away, and of her ultimate grievous loss. Her heartbreak is written so beautifully, as only a poet can do.

Online, I found this quote from the poet: “What happened to Randall is that his wings came off…He never had a chance to fulfil his life. For me and my family, it was as if we had come apart too.”*

Here is the last poem in the volume:

Holy Doors

I come home in spring – the bitter season
of your dying. The last trace
of winter’s ordeal – a residue of salt
on the window, deadfall on the lawn.

On this point of land where you carved out
your pain, the pregnant earth
is longing again. You have slipped from me

through holy doors – your embrace
less fierce now. A slack tide lingers wistfully
in the cove, expectant like still morning.

In lacunas of time, I look for your radiance
in the haloes of clouds. I listen
for your voice in the towhee’s song.

        Randall Button ~ 1967 - 1994

So beautiful. So sad. Yet with the hint of the radiance of a spirit released into peacefulness at last. As I, too, have a brilliant son who was stricken with schizophrenia at seventeen, this volume is especially dear to me. I have read the poems many times through the years, the words of a mother who has walked a similar path to mine, though I am fortunate in that my son, while suffering, is still alive.

Margo Button won the Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry for The Unhinging of Wings. It was followed by The Shadows Fall Behind, which explores her anger at her son’s death, and the journey to some semblance of equilibrium when she adopted a South American child. 

She has two other books, Heron Cliff and The Elder’s Palace.

The poet is a former high school teacher, who taught French and Spanish in Hong Kong, Chile, Lebanon and Canada. She lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island, and in Peurto Vallarta, Mexico.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. Beautiful and sad indeed, in equal measure. Thank you, Sherry, for a most moving post. I am glad to think this poet's words may have provided some comfort and/or catharsis for you over the years of living with your own tragedy. Meanwhile she seems to be saying to me that disaster is not a reason ever to give up on life (even though her son did).

    1. One gains hope and comfort reading the words of one who has walked a similar path. Especially one who has survived the worst that can befall a mother, a fear i have lived with for thirty years. Thanks, Rosemary.

  2. "In lacunas of time" that line encapsulates the expansive feeling of loss. The first poem is brilliant. I could see the unfolding and unhinging of wings. The glass that looked like freedom was not, but simply an escape from the body's cage which is so easily broken.

  3. That is exactly it, Lori. The glass that looks like freedom, but was not. Thanks for your perceptive comments, that read like a poem themselves.

  4. Thank you Sherry, for sharing this. These poems hold healing in the wings of their words.


    1. "Healing in the wings of their words". I love it! Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  5. This poem is so beautiful it hurts! Thank you.

  6. Yes, the whole situation hurts........the human condition always includes sorrow............but thankfully also much joy.

  7. I love that first one about the doves!

  8. Yes, me, lovely to see you, Shay!

  9. Really, what beautiful, though sad, poetry! What a tragedy for this mother to lose her son at such a young age. The grief will continue forever....but I am glad that she has found a way to write her grief in her poetry....... It sounds like the poet has had a very rich and varied life. Thank you for this, Sherry.

  10. You can see why this story hits so close to home with me, Mary. Thank you for your compassionate reading. Sigh. It is amazing to me, how strong we mothers have to be, as we make this earthwalk.

    1. Yes, I can see why this hits close to home, Sherry.

  11. Love her writings, especially the first one. Thanks, Sherry. I guess this really hit home for you.

  12. Beautiful, poignant pieces of poetry. The backstory is heart-rending. “he crumples against glass that looks like open sky” ... so moving and deeply emotional ... the yearning to be free, that is never to be fulfilled.

    Life is so unfair. To have to carry on living while bearing the pain of what-might-have-been, for someone we love dearly, requires a special kind of strength ... the sense of loss: profound and without end, I am sure.

    Your remark, Sherry, about “how strong we mothers have to be, as we make this earthwalk” resonated with me. Often, as I have made this earthwalk, the quote by author Nicole Helget has come to me: “A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.” To chose to adopt a child and take on the role of mother once again, after knowing such sadness, is awe-inspiring.

  13. I was awed by that, too, Wendy, to risk her heart again after such a devastating loss was just so brave. But also likely healing, too. I hope so, anyway.

  14. Aah...A mother's heart! I have no more words to express my feelings. Oh! Thanks for this share dear friend.....

  15. No words needed, my friend. Mothers understand other mothers' journeys only too well.

  16. beautiful poetry.
    i think it takes courage to write about such grief, and to write it so beautifully.
    who will not be moved?

  17. The first two lines of "Holy Doors" made me shiver. Sigh.


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