Monday, October 15, 2007

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

The poet’s neighbor who said “Good fences make good neighbors,” never saw the fences of war.

Surrounded by thick fences I stay hidden tending my own small garden. Hiding behind fences embedded with sharp glass and razor wire so no one dare climb over to visit. Fences too high that I never see my neighbors faces though I hear their voices. Fences that open to those I already know, to those who are safe, to those who do not threaten me. Once they are gone a guard closes the fence gate; and is vigilant night and day so I am not disturbed as I tend my garden.

The poet’s neighbor who said, “Fences make good neighbors,” never saw the fences of war. He never saw how long those fences take to tear down.


I wrote this prose poem in response to the hundreds of compounds in Liberia and the fences that surround them. The description of the fence in this poem depicts a blending of the many different types. There are reasons for them. The aftermath of the war necessitates the use of fences often because of poverty. Hopefully a day will come when these fences and compounds are no longer a part of the landscape. As I travel the roads of Liberia I do think of Frost’s question about fences:

Why do fences make good neighbors?
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out?

I too wonder what is being walled in and what is being walled out and not only here but in the USA with our fenced in gated communities. No, Frost’s neighbor never saw the fences of war nor could understand how long these fences of war take to tear down. It will take time before Liberia’s literal and metaphorical fences of war are torn down.

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