Dear Mr. Frost,
Does it trouble you that people so freely credit you for having said “Good fences make good neighbors”? True, you penned those words, but these days people pounce on them and yank them completely out of context for their own purposes. We delight in latching on to the sentence, and then point to you, saying, he said so! With credit tossed your way, we draw lines that declare some in, while others are out. Some left, and others right. Some right, and others wrong. Red or blue. Gay or straight. Alien or one who belongs. Fake news or one we’re inclined to believe. We draw lines in the sand, build walls on neighbors’ borders, dig chasms that separate us from the other, while giving thanks for a location from which we can hurl labels, point fingers and nurse our uninformed assumptions.
In reality, you spoke a deeper truth: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.” Voices and longings call out from every direction, pleading for a few cracks in the wall through which those so inclined can slip, come together and begin to trade tales. We yearn for a meeting place where we can swap stories of the hunger and humiliation, shards and surprises, dances and dramas, vulnerabilities and victories that shaped us into the people we’ve become. We long to share the crazy little dream that was triggered in Grandma’s lap and encouraged by a teacher’s accolades; the monsters that hid around corners or slept down the hall and sent us fleeing into the night; the first notes of a song birthed in the fertile folds of our own hearts.
Many of us carry scars and seeds that can never be seen if the looking only happens from afar. Perhaps, as you suggest, if we take the time to ask who it is we’re walling in, and who out, we’ll decide that the blocks and bricks can be put to better use building a warming shelter, meeting place and welcoming table. Perhaps step by step, stone by stone, story by story, we’ll work together to bring the wall down, fill the chasms in, and create a space for all.
Thank you for the wisdom of your words, and the power of your poetry.
A friend and admirer