Three Boys at the Town Lake

Karen Kilcup

Karen Kilcup

Three Boys at the Town Lake was selected for MSUL’s themed call for work about Water, in coordination with the MSU Broad Art Museum’s fall 2023 exhibition, Flint is Family in Three Acts, featuring the photography of Latoya Ruby Frazier.

Teen-thin, the boys search for stones to skip
or heave, testing shapes, sizes, heft,
drop the ones too large or thick, lift up
their prizes like medals—just right weight.
Two cheer as the dark-haired one thrusts
a disc that bounces lucky seven times,
two shout when the smallest one hurls
an agate boulder that plops among the lily pads.
Music blasts from a wireless speaker—
dance music, maybe, if no one were watching.
They're cheerful with the older woman when
she appears, launches her blue foam raft,
paddles out beyond their play and lies back.
They smile when she applauds the longest throw.                 
The tanned one launches a blow-up yellow doughnut,
following the fairest boy, his water-lily-pale torso
submerged, pinkish forearms carving water.
The third boy hangs back—he isn't finished,
can't find what he's looking for,
hasn't made the perfect throw.
Will the curly blonde be chubby later?
The tallest one marry twice, smoke and drink
too much? Will the third become a volunteer
fireman, or the town cop? Will they
forget these rocks, the water, sun,
each other?

Explore the power of words

Select your story