The Secret of Bruce Cooley
is that he was never lagging behind
all those afternoons on the trail
when he would recede farther and
farther from view until vanishing
altogether and I would think, Great.
Should I keep going or head back?
He didn't care one way or another
what I did. He had everything
a man could possibly need in that
immense fanny pack of his, and he
was advancing at a pace that fit him
(if you could call it a pace at all):
stopping to sniff the air, peering into
the canopy at some bird, dropping to
his knees before a bloom, lying down
inevitably in the speckled shade
to nap. And when at last I'd find him,
he would squint up at me with a grin,
as if I were the one who had been lost.
He would open his palm upon his
latest totem—a pot shard, perhaps, or
a trilobyte—and, his cheeks flushed with
the pleasure of knowing, would recite
for me the litany of the wildflowers.