Good Fences

For as long as I recall, I’ve carried within me the following line:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

I can’t usually remember what poem it is from. I probably read it in high school English.

But it has stayed with me all of these years intact, the way wonderful writing can. It visits me at times, like an echoed wisdom from an ancestor since passed.

I think it stuck with me because even in high school, I sensed the existence of walls inside me.

I didn’t know it consciously. But often the Frost quote would float through my mind paraphrased as “There is something in me that doesn’t love a wall.”

Looking back, the Freudian slip was prophetic.

Those walls were walls that I’d built to protect me, but they’d also held me prisoner, because I did not know then that they were of my own making, and therefore my own to remove.

Years later, through much personal healing and growth, I’ve come to terms with my inner walls, and I find I am both of the people in Frost’s poem.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.

Like the narrator, I, too, find that my walls want to come down.

Though I’ve come to accept them as a part of me to love and find compassion for, they also feel like something that wants to be dislodged, or that needs to disintegrate, feeling like foreign matter in the organic soul forest I inhabit within.

And like the neighbor, some ancient part of me feels them to be necessary. It’s as if there’s an ancestral heritage in place that pulls me to them, at odds with the part within that wants them down.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

I thank those parts within for their concern, and the peoples from which I came who needed walls to survive.

I thank them for their love and care.

I respectfully let them know that today, I choose a different way.

I feel their support at my back as I step out into the Great Adventure.

I lovingly dismantle each wall, and face the leafy, lush green of the world within and without, with my face towards the sun, unafraid of the shadows.

I wonder if Robert Frost was speaking of the walls within, too.

I like to think so. It makes me feel we are connected, like good neighbors can be.

Mending Wall

BY ROBERT FROST

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.”

I could say “Elves” to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

More on my walls: Palisade

And: Essential Excavation

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: neighbors

2 thoughts on “Good Fences

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