Life, with chunks bitten out

After an absence of weeks,
Of which we do not speak,
I am back.

Tracing the steps to the school gate
And the man who walks his dog
Passes me.

He greets me with a smile,
Understated but for me,
As usual.

Again I worry about this familiarity;
Should I know him? Be able to
Greet him?

Or is he simply the man who walks his dog,
Passing me on the way, every day,
And smiling.

If he was a good friend or relative,
We could not embrace, not even
Shake hands.

But we can exchange this nod and smile
As if to say some things still are
The same.