The Back Fence

Carrie Jones
2 min readDec 27, 2021

A poem

“The Back Fence” a poem
“The Back Fence” a poem

Our neighbor’s tree,

dying and diseased,

broke our back fence,

the day after a tornado

killed dozens in other states.

There are gaping holes

in the high and white fence now, needing

to be replaced, and our dogs

can’t romp around unsupervised

the way they used to, as scattered

and wild as people posting news on Twitter.

But it doesn’t matter, does it?

We’re always building up fences,

crying when they are torn down,

never letting each other see into back

windows of our lives, always showing

those front-facing facades where the shingles

still exist in perfect rows and there are no missing

bricks or boards or plywood windows,

never letting each other

roam from lawn to lawn and house

to house, town to town and beyond.

I smile at my neighbor through the fence gap.

He waves and my dog barks. As I apologize he says

he loves her, keeping beat to her noises. She lets him

know he’s not alone. And he likes it.

That fence. Why do we keep building

them? Why are we so worried about keeping

others out, inviting them only in through

the front door, containing ourselves. Hell if I know.

But still we’ll replace the panels and I’ll look

out my window and see only my yard, the top

of my neighbor’s house and not the rotting wood

near the basement foundation, only privy to rooflines

and a perfectly fenceless sky.



Carrie Jones

Internationally & New York Times bestselling novelist. Writing tips. Podcasts. Poems. Psych stuff.