Poetry by Vivienne Popperl
after Tess Gallagher’s “The Woman Who Raised Goats”
In the walk-in cage of iron bars and chicken wire
you flutter from perch to perch.
You sidle up to each other, bob your heads,
coo like water emptying from a bottle.
Every day my parents leave the red-brick house,
backs straight, eyes blank, car piled with produce to sell.
But when I offer to help earn my keep
the uncles lean back against their velvet chairs,
inhale the smoke from their cigars,
half laugh, half cough, sip their whiskey.
No, no, you could be pretty too.
If only you put on some lipstick,
some make-up. If only you straightened
your hair. You’ll see, some nice boy will want to take you home.
I turn back to the pigeons. Oh my dear ministers,
your eyes outlined in white, your tails fanned, you strut in the dirt.
I cover my head when I enter your cage.
Every day I drift further and further away
from the red brick house. Tomorrow I will leave
your cage door open.
Some of you will fly away.
Some will stay.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has appeared in Rain Magazine, VoiceCatcher Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, Persimmon Tree Journal, Oyster River Pages, and Willawaw Journal. She was honored to serve as a poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher.