Ah, Bay City…

Bay City

Texas; a town of twenty thousand,
it’s economy, such as it is,
fed by the nuclear plant.
Thirty miles from the brown gulf
where half-brahma beef cattle
and long-horn’s graze right up
to the edge of corpse strewn water,
salting their flesh in for the butcher.

The mayor attends my father’s church.
He does not speak to me.
His immaculate wife raises Chow-Chows,
black-tongued, as untouchable as she is.
Her food is delivered from Houston,
none of them risk shopping
in the singular store.

Here, all white women are blonde
with heavy figures that advertise fertility,
perfect for breeding, they are
all hips and breasts, downcast eyes.
They are loud in gaggles, pecking parties,
silent before their tall, red men
who worry less about appearance.
It takes an effort to be kept.

Once, in church, a rancher
turned to my father,
refusing my handshake,
and deep in grief he said,
‘Well, she is a waste of a heifer.
You’ve let your line ruin, pastor.’
My father smiled, laid
his hand on my shoulder.
A few weeks longer
and I would be back in Wales.
Now I worked a twelve hour shift,
roller skating on what I did not know
was a twice-broken ankle.

The cooks called me Punta,
felt up my ass.
I took ibuprofen in fistfuls
and counted the days
until I could see a doctor, hoping
that the eventual pressure
in the air bourn cabin
would not send
a bone shard spiraling
towards my brain.

I rolled from the kitchen
with hamburgers and curly fries
balanced on my red plastic tray,
with tall, over sweet drinks.
Collecting orders, payments,
from heavy arms that dangled
from the high windows of Humvees.

The tips came from people whose cars
hardly ran, the rear seats bursting
with children, in states of undress.
A dogfighter let me hold
The black-and-white puppy
he was grooming. He said,
‘Love her good Miss,
that’s all she’s gonna get.’
I drank in her sweet breath.
He gave me a look from eyes
marred with ink tear drops,
handed me a sweat-rimed fifty,
his lips curled, ‘We all need loving, Miss.’
It was clear to both of us that loving
wasn’t at all what he meant.





About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on May 24, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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