One of the three gems we got from him in this Love & Death Issue.

My Neighbor’s Mailbox

is the usual silver color, oversized
Wonder Bread shape on which he’s stenciled
“Welcome Family and Friends.”
My neighbor and I are friendly.
I appreciate the way he’s often tuning up
an engine or working around his yard.
We talk about the weather, or how our houses
are always in need of more attention
than we can give them. Last week
he told me of a robbery only three doors away
from where we stood, and the loaded gun
he keeps in his closet. He wondered
about our neighbor with the half-shaved head
and face-full of piercings and tattoos.
I was looking at his mailbox
and thinking about how hard it is
to extend an idea of love into the actual world
and have it apply to more than the people
just like yourself. In that world my neighbor’s hours
at work have been cut back. Lately, when
walking past his house, I’ve found him
just standing aimlessly in his driveway.
My grandfather would have called my neighbor
a good, hard-working man. My neighbor
likes to call me The Professor and ask me
if I’m on another sabbatical when I walk by,
the joke, as we both know too well,
an acknowledgment of another kind of difference.
He might be surprised to know how we’re alike,
how, despite my professed, but mostly imagined,
good-willed attempts to love all my neighbors,
I’m all too wary of anyone who drives past
me on my walks and doesn’t wave,
or worse, comes to the door just about everyone
who knows me knows we never use,
and waits on the other side to be welcomed.