Today, I took a 2-hour bike ride.
I passed several people along the way.
Most were also on their bikes; some were in their yards.
As Mr. Rogers would say, it was,
“a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”
I said hello to anyone close enough
and looking my way.
Only a few returned the salutation.
Most’s eyes, staring blankly, traveled on
as if deaf and blind.
One child I passed was on my side of the road,
but he changed over when he noticed my presence.
As we approached each other, going in opposite directions,
I said, “hi”, in a small voice, so as not to frighten him.
He kept eye contact but said nothing as he passed.
When I started kindergarten, I walked to school each day.
I remember my mother standing at the top of the front steps.
She always said the same two things:
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Look both ways before you cross the street.”
I never questioned that good advice – until today.
Knowing what I know now, about how a person
is most in danger of harm not by a stranger,
but by a loved one or family acquaintance,
I questioned, why is it children are told not to talk to strangers?
It’s not to protect them.
It’s to keep the secret from getting out.
p.s. one day I will try to write this as a proper poem.