Vol. 2, No. 1: "Drop Shot Valley" photo

Derby Girl & At the Bowling Alley Allie Hoback

Derby Girl

Kate skates like she’s already had every bruise, 

scrape, or broken bone possible. Nothing

can hurt her. She zips through neighborhoods

with narrow streets and traffic; she goes down

big empty hills with her eyes closed. She listens

to the sound of her wheels on pavement and thinks 

about being small and new to skates again,

learning to place one wheeled foot

ahead of the other, like a fawn getting its legs

right. She likes it late at night when no one 

can see her, when she can sweat and whoop without 

an audience. One time she fell and knocked 

herself unconscious and when she tells this story

she leaves out the part where someone stole

her skates right off her feet and she walked 

home three miles in unmatched socks. 

The way she tells it is, she woke up in soft

roadside grass, looked at the sun, 

and vomited from a concussion.

 

At the Bowling Alley

I am the same as in real life—all or nothing. 

After a strike, the flash of a goofy cartoon pin 

across the scorekeeping screen. After a slow, 

sad drift into the unprotected gutter, 

taunts of an animated ball with arms 

and eyebrows. But I do feel cool. 

My shirt has a collar and tassels and dice 

embroidered on the lapel. He didn’t let me win. 

But when I am pulled into the arms 

of Player 1, we kiss in the near-quiet of the place— 

just us and the all-American pastime, 

the thump of balls on lanes and falling pins.