We’ve published this column about American life for several years, and we have finally found a poem about one of the great American pastimes, bowling. “The Big Lebowski” caught bowling on film, and this poem by Regan Huff of Georgia captures it in words.
Occurrence on Washburn AvenueAlice’s first strike gets a pat on the back,her second a cheer from Betty Woszinskiwho’s just back from knee surgery. Her third—“A turkey!” Molly calls out—raises everyone’s eyes.They clap. Teresa looks up from the bar.At the fourth the girls stop seeing their own pins wobble.They watch the little X’s fill the row on Alice’s screen—That’s five. That’s six. There’s a holy spacearound her like a saint come down to bowlwith the Tuesday Ladies in Thorp, Wisconsin.Teresa runs to get Al, and Fran calls Billyat the Exxon. The bar crowds with silent men.No one’s cheering. No one’s bowling nowexcept Alice’s team, rolling their ballsto advance the screen around to Alice, who’s stoppedeven her nervous laugh, her face blank and smoothwith concentration. It can’t go onand then it does go on, the white barreading “Silver Dollar Chicken” lowering and clearingnothing, then lowering and clearing nothing again.