I Used to Know and Do Things

The guy sits halfway down the service road on the far side of the canyon.

No mangled bike below him. No gesture of distress.

My hand tightens on the handle of the plastic push-car my son is outgrowing.

I don’t want to worry my wife. I close the gap she’s opened with the stroller.

The weirdo in the canyon dissipates against the bulk of other thoughts.

Then yesterday I take my son to a trailhead at the affluent edge of the development. He wants to hike the residential street instead.

45 minutes. One block.

He picks up clusters of brittle berries and crushes them off the stems. Twice I tell him not to put them in his mouth.

Let’s call it home school.

It soon makes sense to sit down on the curb. In long underwear and painting shorts. The bushes rustling behind me.

Polite suspicion warps the smiles of walkers who distance to the street.

They resemble Heisman Trophies when they wave.

They scan the gutter for a mangled bike.

My son emerges in his Lightning McQueen hat. Lends me credibility.

I’m lucky for his company in these fresh venues for repose. Where “you can’t eat that,” may or may not be true.

The unfazed components of the landscape team up and dwarf my sum of knowledge.

The word for the thing that holds pine needles together at the base?

Whether I’ll hug my parents again?

The difference between ravens and crows?

I handle fallen artifacts of trees. Not sure if I am basking or drowning in this stasis.

Until I stand and say, “It’s time, pal. Let’s go home and wash our hands.”