The Fence

Once upon a time is what the fence dividing up a mountain 
range announces, in lines at once irregular and even.

For drama it depends upon a clear beginning, middle, and 
end. Its effects? Cathartic, purging landowners of their terror, 
interlopers of their pity. On guard! the playwright cries.All
the world’s a fence, the groundlings say.

In the ancient quarrel between fancy and the imagination the 
fence takes both sides. Nor does it distinguish between form 
and content, poetry and prose.

These are the four directions of the fence: up, down, right, 
wrong, black, white, male, female. Nevertheless, at night the 
fence points only toward the future, time’s true north.

In Tennessee someone is pouring the wilderness into a jar — 
that’s one way to build a fence. Here’s another: trace a pebble’s 
lineage back to Creation.

Vested with moonflowers and intimations of the miraculous,
the fence tilts into the hills, loosening its nails in a provocative 
fashion, unbuckling the armor men are saving for the final days.

See how the fence swaggers in the wind, embodying a dying 
sense of justice; how it casts a shadow over the rumpled sheets 
of mud tucked into an arroyo in the wake of a flash flood; 
how it reveals our weakness for design.