Dad looked cool as hell throwing his first strike, shocking absolutely no one. I expected no different as I tried emulating his movements during my turn. I got a split and left a pin on the spare.
Then it was Lil Phil’s turn.
The lightest ball they had seemed to weigh more than his tiny ass. We watched him struggle, wind up, throw the bowling ball like a shot put, and fall flat on his ass. The ball sounded like it would go through the floor when it landed about a foot from Phil’s Pocket-Herculean toss, before creeping towards the pins at an obscenely leisurely pace.
spring becomes summer
sunlight stretched to horizon
I shall keep this day
Dad and I fell over each other laughing hysterically in spite of ourselves. After a moment, Phil started laughing too. The ball was almost halfway to the pins as we helped the little guy to his feet. Phil was grinning; always with that grin that seemed to know where mom hid the last of the cookies. Dad reassured Phil that one day he would be bigger and strong enough to handle a bowling ball instead of it handling him. The ball was nearing the end of its journey as I playfully ruffled his hair.
Then we all turned our attention to Phil’s ball as it slowly, painstakingly nudged each and every pin out of its way; an uncanny microcosm of Phil’s unhurried, determined, free-spirited personal philosophy.
My brother had thrown a strike. The heavy ball made a mockery of him, but per usual, Phil got the last laugh.
starlight blinks awake
they salute the setting sun
gently, fades the dusk
We laughed even harder at the absurd luck as we all high-fived.
I’m certain we had other moments, but I will cherish that instant forever as my favorite mental snapshot; the three Dawson men just kickin’ it in the bowling alley, smiling, laughing, and politely debating whether rap music was actually music (Phil and I were absolutely hooked, but Dad held back, thinking it was just another fad, like disco.) We genuinely enjoyed ourselves and each other in a transcendent night at the bowling alley.
A little over one and a half score later finds Lil Phil a grown man, a devoted husband, amazing father, and wise far beyond his 38 years. But in many ways, he’s still that determined little guy throwing strikes with a grin while laughing at the idiocy of fate.
fireflies dance with stars
I cup them with my mind’s hands
Big Phil with his son, my nephew, “Thundercat”
Happy birthday, Big Phil, my plucky little brother.
I know the tone is disturbing, but this poem wasn’t born in a vacuum. My friend trE wrote a harrowing poem on her blog that resonated with me and should resonate with everyone. You should check it out.
I debated sharing this one, but trE encouraged me to do just that.