In Bowling Class, I Think of Dad Taking Things Three Months at a Time

Michael J. Schmidtke



…And when [Pilate] had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

I wake to go bowling.
We’re graded on attitude and attendance.
Everyone laughs. No one cares
about winning. Everyone cares
about winning. First line.
To the left, a woman from the hospital bowls
a strike. She claps and cheers and my heart
beams a little. To the right, a football athlete
plays in headphones–world
between his ears. In Olympia, my father
to whom I will not speak,
whose face heavies with the shrinking
ledger of days,
plants azaleas after surgery, the grooves
in his fingers filling with soil
and mercy. Neurology says 95 percent expire
in one year. Everyone thought it would be the smoking
that did it. Expire, as in
toothpaste, milk, bread. Second line:
approach, backswing, follow-through,
95 percent, one year, maybe I’ll get a spare
but memory sprinkles its gray
powder over the moment: silhouette
of Julian Norwich praying for the wound
of compassion and the present
is God’s private sacrament. 


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Michael J. Schmidt is from Olympia, WA, and is now an MFA candidate at Eastern Washington University. He will soon defend his thesis. He has no idea what will happen after that. You might find other poems of his in Stirring, The Cresset, or Ruminate.