Aged eyes squint toward sturdy trees through frosted window’s quadrant frame. First light proclaims day’s possibility.

A van’s sleek chassis evokes surprise when open doors disgorge from either side a father with his son who have come to view the vacant home nearby.

Details intrigue my writer’s eye: the youth’s polo shirt of powder blue, Dad’s necklace laced with shells, cocoa skin they share.

I’d welcome any neighbor but there’s been little color here. Forty years in Brooklyn among two hundred nations’ folks modeled values all profess.

To learn from diverse cultures or lend a hand with need, plan to meet the common good or heal the ones who bleed, that way of life I need.

But in the rustic setting where I spend elder years amidst nature’s crimson, amber hues, most people’s pigmentation like my skin and hair is white.

This affects perspectives on the causes of the struggles of the world as stereotypes hold sway. To take one side of conflict in our cities or abroad dehumanizes others while our group we falsely laud.

Putin and Hamas are evil, but I cry for the Russian soldier who did not want to go and for the Gaza parent whose fate we do not know while our homeland’s

Prejudice and bigotry endure. While as a Jew I endorse Israel’s right to self-defense I am bound to find it in my heart to make the Stranger welcome whether times are hard or soft.

I oppose the universal tolerance for the normalcy of war. I dispute the calculations of the cynics whose game theories make us pawns, obliterating lives.

And after gazing out my window, yearning, I’m shaking at finding that what I’d thought I’d seen for real was but a vivid dream. My true new neighbor is an old white man like me.


Michael McQuillan, former US Senate aide and Peace Corps Volunteer honored by the Anti-Defamation League and the Brooklyn Council of Churches, chaired the NYPD Training Advisory Council and taught history. The Raven’s Perch, The Write Launch, Tikkun, and the Covid Rebels 21 Poets Anthology have published his work