Exhibit News

Particles on the Wall is excited to announce upcoming exhibits!

 

The REACH Museum

June 29 - October 21, 2016.

The REACH Museum
1943 Columbia Park Trail
Richland, WA 99352
Sun & Mon: Closed
Tue - Sat: 10:00AM-4:30PM

Visitthereach.org

REACH POTW Flyer.jpg

 

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Particles on the Wall 2nd edition from Healthy World Press

 

Termination Winds blew across the Columbia River, through neighboring towns and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In Hanford's early days, many workers quit their jobs and left the area after fierce wind-driven sandstorms that became known as termination winds. When the U.S. government blew into town in 1942 to develop Site W, they ousted residents and denied Native Americans treaty rights to make way for secret nuclear plants to produce plutonium, the lethal heart of nuclear weapons.  Over 40 years, Hanford's plutonium production released radioactive particles into the air, turning the winds deadly.

 

 

Janice Camp. Site W. 2009

Photo by Richard Nicol

 

Clean

 

Our fathers built the town

For our mothers

Our mothers out at the Area

Caring instead for reactions, decay,

Worrying over one-hundreds, three-hundreds.

When she was born there was an outage

And came second to science.

But Hanford built the family

My father flying over.

Sagebrush shade and plane shadows

We played in the river

Water like a blanket over our desert forms

That same blanket of heat crept over the town

Escaped the gates- endless gates

Meandered down 240, Twin Bridges, Grosscup

Blew in half-heartedly across the water

Haunted front porches front yards.

The children had chemistry in their veins

Too green eyes

Her terrible love and wrenching hate for it…

And she didn’t want to live it anymore.

I wonder if Yokohama and Glasgow and Seattle

Are enough distance for her

Far enough away.

Our fathers built the town

For our mothers

But Hanford built the family

My father flying over.

 

--Whitney Garrett

Hard Hat/Rolling

Pin Mervyn Clyde Witherup’s hard hat, worn at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Mother Witherup’s rolling pin, used for making her cherry pies. Mother Witherup was questioned by the FBI regarding her motivations for selling and advertising her home-baked pies.

 

My Father Dying: 1984

 

He burns with prostate cancer.

Carried plutonium home in his underwear,

Ashes of Trinity; Ashes of Nagasaki.

 

“For Christ’s sake, dad.

You went to work daily, out of love

And duty, but did the Devil’s job.

You guys stoked Hell’s ovens,

Brought home shadows in you lunchboxes.

 

“All the radiation badges can’t monitor

How much your children love you

Or measure thirty years of labor

Smoldering in your work pants:

Or count the sperm spitting across centuries,

Igniting everywhere karmic fires.”

 

-- William Witherup

 

This poem is included in the collection

Downwind, Downriver, New and Selected Poems

West End Press, October, 2000

 

 

Like a Gnat


           Three days to Christmas.
           Choke out, starter engaged, blades cough, catch, and spin. The small plane taxies into
position, propellers thwacking. Cleared for take off, the engine roars, wings wobble. Flat-green
plane shrinks in the bullet-grey sky, droning south.
           Colonel Dime watched his pilot and the gauges, watched the military base fall away, a
small river twisting, the Yakima. He peered at his map, followed ridgelines and cliffs and then a
brown band of big river, the Columbia.
           His map, his window. "Follow that for now." He pointed to a chalky tributary labeled
Deschutes. Roaring engine, spinning blades. Mile after mile of basalt-rimmed coulee, bleached
grass and grey brush, scattered snow. Too many miles. "Nothing here."
           The plane circled, back to the north. Then up the Columbia. East.
           The river bent north, the plane continued east. Fields, snow smeared in furrows,
farmhouses, steep rise of the Blue Mountains. Again the plane made a slow curve back to the big
river. This time it followed choppy water north, bucked turbulence when they flew through the
rivercut gap.
           Crumbling cliffs, steep-banked brown and reddish black, drop to water. Sand dunes and
backwatered braids. They follow upstream west, south, then west again. Big flat in the horn of
the river. A few rows of trees and a smattering of buildings. Blackrock, full-powered river
crashing white. One long slope to the north. The Colonel marked his map. The plane circled
lower.
           We need water electricity and isolation is what the General had said. The bleaklands
below would do.
           Pilot’s voice crackled through headphones. “Seen enough?”
           “Damn right. But follow the river back. One last look.”
           Harsh land and sky rotate in an easy arc. Rough wind, big river, small bends of a smaller
river, they can see base, and land.
           The Colonel finished business and returned to his quarters: a bed, a light, a desk, a hot
shower. Wished for a shot of whisky and wrote his report.



           Sinuous platted waters of the Columbia, Chiwana. Flat eddies’ sheen grey as the dusk
sky.
           That was a hard winter and a bitter spring, long in coming. Our young men gone in the
war. Our clothing and our patience worn thin, we were hungry for more than patches of pale blue
sky.
           Coyote rabbit mocking magpie. Shocks of spent tule and cattail rustle, windblown
bitterbrush and sage in small lament. As fast as winter loosened its bite we packed up, ready to
follow the first roots, seeking newborn green.
           We joined up with relatives at the mouth of Crab Creek. Together we made our way to
the long slope Wahluke. We dug from sun-warmed rocky pockets there, felt the sun in our own
bones, we shared the foods and were grateful.
           When we got to the ferry there were soldiers. They seemed surprised to see us, talked
amongst themselves on the landing, directed us to stay back. They didn’t know anything about a
bunch of Indians crossing.
           We waited. Talked amongst ourselves. Randolph Siolah went up to them, explaining. But
they said no, we were not allowed to cross.
We talked together. We were all confused. The soldiers wanted us to go away from the
river, far from our places.
            Two of the soldiers came up to us. Told us to go away, right away. They went back to the
other soldiers. All of them watching us, fingering their guns.
            We argued amongst ourselves, unsure. I was frightened. We talked about going all the
way back, above the creek and north. Some thought the soldiers told us we couldn't cross
anywhere. Others said drive downriver, to White Bluffs, take that ferry.
            We never got to our places by the rapids. The soldiers made the farmers leave, put up
fences and patrolled. By summertime you could hear their machinery, you could see clouds of
dust from many places. We all suffered that spring.

--By Ellie Belew

 

This excerpt comes from As Though There Were No Tomorrow, a novel based on the life of a woman scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project. It takes place from December 1942 into the spring of 1943, when Hanford was chosen to be Site W within the Manhattan Project. Where better to consider our relations within and interconnection with the natural world than in a sacred place, now flooded, a toxic waste site that because of its very toxicity is protected habitat? Who better to make this journey of disconnection and connection than a woman who worked to create the Atom Bomb?

Judith Miller Loomis

Save B Reactor, 2006

Pigmented stamp ink on paper

Photo by Richard Nicol

The Wind's Sail

 

In the new world
combustion is a secret
set to burst from its radioactive shell,

its afterlife, cloud billowing
into the wind's sail
slips to the ground as if

tempting who will follow
who will embrace invention
all the way to the ends of the earth?

Along the desert, in the crescent formed
where the hills lay flush to sea level
and river bed, cooling towers

notch the skyline, the land
stained with wild flowers and sagebrush.
Down river a camp fire blossoms

orange into twilight,
the smoke lingers
past nightfall, past the embers' quenching.

by Nancy Dickeman

Christopher Squier

Great Minds in Troubled Times, 2010

Painting on Paper

Figures in Painting from L-R: Albert Einstein, Leslie Groves, Enrico Fermi, Marie Curie, J. Robert Oppenheimer 

Photo by Richard Nicol