“But jealousy what might befall your travel,
Being skilless in these parts, which to a stranger,
Unguided and unfriended, often prove
Rough and unhospitable.”

~ “Twelfth Night,” William Shakespeare

The next door neighbor complains
about a motion sensor light
she claims is too bright
& in violation of a city
ordinance, that its pearl-
white glow spills over her side
of the fence & into their stairwell
even when the blinds are drawn, into
an upstairs toilet window (as proven
by pictures she’s taken by cell
phone). Even after I’ve conceded
& turned the always on setting
to only motion triggered, texts
continue with their hint of under-
lying hostility, the threat
we will be reported to some
branch of the authorities
apparently with jurisdiction
over the manner in which this
uncontainable element is dispersed
through store-bought conveyances
of molded plastic & simple
wiring— additionally because
I’ve pressed my right to determine
for my own level of comfort
that it’s the longer, ten-
minute duration I’d prefer
rather than five, for the light
to remain on if triggered.
In these times of nervous
uncertainty, it’s more
than the fear of squirrels
accidentally setting off
the sensors than it is
of active prowlers skulking
about, trying doors & windows,
breaking into homes & garages.
It’s hinted that we’d be
better off with firearms,
but we don’t own any. Were I
the trigger-happy sort, I’d
have unfriended her on social
media by now— this nonce verb,
actually first used in 1659
by a British clergyman,
but not then meaning
the removal of someone from
a list of friends & contacts.
Who could find fault with
light itself, girdling & making
friendly the dark passages?

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