BETWEEN TWO CITIES
After “The Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
When I think about my city and yours
I might first think that you are dolphins
and we are mermaids,
and mermaids, preferring to rest
on the rip-rapped banks of our river,
won’t bother your dolphins
who need the breadth of an ocean
to build their neighborhood.
I also know that when I want
my kids to see the ocean
or when you want to walk the river,
there’s something that lies between us,
that divides, prevents us from going
where we might want to be.
When my grandparents arrived
this place was one big county,
so I know there’s not too much distance,
or that we aren’t too different
from their time and place on these roads.
We should be happy with this change,
the way the street signs move
from blue to green
and back again.
The soft moment of leaving
and then coming home.
What everyone gets wrong about Frost
is that his fence is at its best when it’s dividing,
though I’ve found this to be true—
if your neighbor hangs, guts,
and skins his deer
from an old swing set frame,
or prefers to water his azaleas naked
while smoking his morning cigarette.
But what he really means
when the wall breaks down,
and the stones start to fall,
is that the neighbors — you and I —
meet at the edge of our land,
work together to fix it.
Noah Renn’s poetry has appeared in North Central Review, New Verse News, The Quotable, Undressed and Whurk, among other journals. He teaches composition and literature at Old Dominion University, and he teaches poetry courses at the Muse Writers Center.