–after Carolyn Forché’s “Lost Poem”
I’m searching for a song I heard years ago.
I can’t recall the title, but there’s a wagon
in the song, and a market, and a white dove
or maybe a swallow. We sang the song
sitting shoulder to shoulder on the school bus
to summer camp, or to tour a Coca-Cola
factory, or to sports events where we mostly lost
the game or the race, or to matinées downtown
to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” We would
harmonize our voices to drown out the shouts
and laughter of the boys throwing dice and taking
nips from mini-bar bottles and ducking behind
seat backs to puff on cigarette butts. In the song
the wind laughed, there was an ox, and a farmer,
and our voices swelled full throated, a frisson
of danger down our spines as we imagined
how, if we were threatened, we would fight back
or at least fly away.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Cirque, Willawaw, About Place Journal, and other publications. She was poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher. She received both second place and an honorable mention in the 2021 Kay Snow awards poetry category by Willamette Writers and second place in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Spring 2022 contest “Members Only” category. Her first collection, A Nest in the Heart, was published by The Poetry Box in April, 2022.