Thomas Edwards walked at night.
He lived in the house across the street.
One summer our air conditioner was out for almost a month.
And I would awaken in the wee hours, sweating
I’d look out the open window at the street, the lawns
And there he would be, time and again
Walking alone, his shadow shifting back to front
As he passed under streetlamps.
I knew something of his story.
He’d served in the Pacific in World War II
Then worked thirty years at the plant.
Married with three kids
One girl a year ahead of me in school
Who was pretty and smart and stayed out of trouble.
I made up my mind to ask him why.
He was not a spooky or unapproachable type.
And I thought of every way to make my question seem normal
And not intrusive.
But there was no way
And so I sat on the front porch one August night
At three in the morning
And when he came by I asked him
Hey, Mr. Edwards, why you up?
Well, it’s cooler out now, he said.
But you walk every night, I said.
Even in the winter.
This is the time I think the best, he said.
I breathe easier
I see the world at peace.