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.