Good Fences Make Good Neighbours Nervous

After Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”

The weekend wakes with dental whirr of saw
and drill; a picket fence has sprung along
our border, glowing white. The old wire number
has vamoosed, weeds trimmed and dosed.
Between our yards, the wall stands proud enough
for Berlin standards: two-man high. Our lives
will never Frisbee into theirs again.
I understand suburban dreams of DIY
and, still, resort to self-defence:
was it something I said? Or played or did?
I see him there with wood and drill in hand.
Was it the festive lights I just left up
or our queer pinko talk or that I hung
wet clothes in just a slip? A guest’s wafting
smoke? Did we, I have to ask, disturb?
I could have come after and made repair.
His buzzkill saw blots out my work; I plot
to drop the old Frost’s mending poem
in next-door’s letterbox – peace offering.
What gaps are there in modern neighbourishness?
I’ve heard his kids cry; no doubt they’ve heard me.
I’ve sung and howled in seeming privacy, alone,
content in my walled loneliness. Yet
something there is in in me that doesn’t love
a fence, that watches from the kitchen as
his torso, mouth and paintbrush disappear.

Image: Phil Warren

Zenobia Frost is the coordinating editor of Cordite Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in Voiceworks, Overland, Southerly and The Lifted Brow and been shortlisted in the 2013 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize and Thomas Shapcott Prize. Her debut poetry collection, Salt and Bone, is out now through Walleah Press. @zenfrost

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