Velvet and Blue
The Frenchman’s voice is velvet.
Chair tipped over, cracked
porcelain dishes stacked
in the sink. Pink negligee dangles
on a nail behind the door. Lily
of the valley, jasmine, roses
perfume the air. In the waste
basket, bent in half,
a pregnancy test strip,
two blue lines showing.
-after Carolyn Forché
There is, on the windowsill,
a blue vase filled with yellow roses
and sprigs of rosemary. The window
is half open, its blue shutters flung back.
Early morning light flows in,
rests on the red tiled floor
where a rug lies quietly askew.
Chevron patterned, its colors are red and blue.
There is, on the desk, a wide bowl
of English porcelain; violets and hollyhocks
scallop its girth, each stem and leaf
a little off kilter where shattered porcelain
pieces were glued back together.
No trace remains of the fiery flare
of burning letters that shattered the bowl.
A young woman sits at the desk,
in one hand a fountain pen,
in the other a bound notebook. Lying open
before her is a paperback. A dictionary
sits within reach. Now and then
she transcribes an unknown word,
speaks both the English and French
into the quiet room. Words encircle her, thrum
beneath her fingers on the page, connect
the broken pieces of her heart.
Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Cirque, Rain Magazine, 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.