Poetry by Vivienne Popperl
after Elizabeth Woody’s In Memory of Crossing the Columbia
My crib was pink wood my blanket soft white but my bed was inside a long, swaying sling moving from continent to continent rocked by the rhythms of trains, steamships, and airplanes. The rocky spine of the koppie1 with its narrow, dusty, twisting paths behind our house called to me but I could not stay. Women in dark rooms cold continents away cooking, sewing, cleaning gave me their dark eyes, their thin lips, their tight curling hair. The broken threads of their lives quivered in heat waves rising off dusty paths, empty asphalt roads. The ether of their lives re-formed and settled in me. Now, my back rests in the soft black loam of the Willamette Valley. My belly fills with sweet blueberries from Hillsboro peaches from Dayton. My skin blooms to the sun’s rays. My blood rushes with the grey sluice of rain. Here I conceived and birthed a daughter. She swam through my heart and my heritage. She grew and left this green and cloudy place but returns with the seasons for celebrations Thanksgiving, New Years, Labor Day. The past’s tendrils twist through me, curl through her, hold us tight.
1Koppie is an Afrikaans word for ridge or hill
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. She began writing poetry in 2010 as a counterpoint to her daily diet of legal writing. She studied with Kim Stafford and Claudia Savage. Her poetry has appeared in Rain Magazine’s 2018 edition and she is thrilled that a glimpse of her work will be published in the forthcoming edition of The Poeming Pigeon, a literary journal of poetry. She was honored to serve as a poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher,an online journal of women’s voices and vision.