You go to the lower valley
and visit George Petty outside Mabton.
Your mother says he’s good to her,
maybe because his wife Rae died
in front of your mother’s eyes.
He was already seeing his girlfriend
and had what he always wanted,
a vineyard. George was retired from Hanford,
where he worked in security.
Laborers there come down with cancer
and their children follow in death;
your friend Witherup left home early,
but too late . . . radioactivity
more lethal than Los Alamos.
Someone called to learn you had no problems
from growing up not so far away.
George lives up to his name, Petty,
hating people whose language is not his,
you tell your mother you have to go home,
and on the way out
your dead father’s friend from down the road
drives you to the airport in Yakima;
your mother weeps through her Irish smile.
Rae was a big breasted German woman
who sat with you in Seattle
where she met George long before the vineyard.
Wall drove out once and you told him to go
back to Marge, who was always up to it . . .
So went three months in Seattle.
George left real estate
for his government job, security
clearances, hiding bombs in Montana . . .
All you want to remember of Mabton
was pitching against Mel Stottlemeyer
before he grew up and became a star
pitcher for the New York Yankees.
He wasn’t that good in high school.
Or you were too stupid to know a star
when you saw one.
All you knew, to see, was the morning star.
(22 July 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander