A Boy Drowned in the Lake

Author | Catherine Grossman

This was a long time ago. 
He probably knew the lake as I knew it, where
the drop-off began, the frogs were, the blood suckers,
how far he was from his house when he was in it. 
He was too far.
The swamp was thick with blackened
leaves near his end of the lake. 
Along the shore, dull birds sulked, sparrows had no pluck.
Near my house they were chatty. The two
types did not meld—there had to be
a winner or what was the fuss?
I knew of the boy.
He had a name as all insects have names.
He had a future, well, he had one, but
he changed it. The lake was sweet
even after the boy took his own life
because I didn’t know. 
Maybe, when we walked, he didn’t lift his legs high enough
maybe his spinnerets didn’t work, and
he was stuck on the ground with a terrible gait
and no way to climb out. No hunting for this boy
hand fed by his worried mother.
We walked down a dirt road
on our way home from the bus. I didn’t say hi, 
but likely someone spoke to him.
This too was in a prophecy—the fateful swim,
the bus, the dirt road and the worried mother;
does the one who makes prophecies
have shelves of them that will not be known
until the boy’s grandchildren come of age
though there will be no grandchildren now. 
Not all prophecies fall into the world
like runes. This one was written, 
surely, before the boy was born.
Had the bus closed its doors and turned off its flashers?
Had the children awakened late?
Had the moon, the sun slowed,
those birds stopped arguing? I don’t know
the month or the time of day or whether
I was in the water that day.


About the Author | Catherine Grossman is a member emeritus of the Women’s Creative Writing Group, a recipient of a Golden Key Graduate Scholar Award and a graduate of Warren Wilson MFA Program for writers. Some of her poems can be found in Indiana in the Tipton Review and Flying Island. She teaches writing at Ivy Tech Community College.