As a child, I knew to fear the old man
who lived across the street. He was
mysterious and his house frightening.

He lived alone without a family. At night
there were only flickering dim lights
we thought from candles.
Today a middle-school girl from our street
kept looking at me standing in my garage
as she walked towards the bus stop.

I understood not to smile or wave.
A hello in the street
is something to fear. Seemingly

I can’t be a friendly neighbor
unless my wife is with me. Even then
it’s only safe to say hello with a wave.