An Old Stone Savage Speaks

A Response to Frost’s “Mending Wall”

Sorry I weren’t in a talking mood
when we was fixing the wall.
I was pretty wore out
from helping Hiram cut stove wood
after his boy sawed off his hand and died
and my son’s wife run off again.
Don’t think Amy ever will git over losing that baby.
But I don’t like to go on about it.
You’ve had your own troubles.
Can’t do nothin’ about it noways.
What was you asking me about?
I vaguely recollect telling you Pa’s saying
about fences bein’ good neighbors.
Come into his head after Farmer Vernon
disputed the property line.
Cost Pa nearly sixty dollars to straighten it out.
Had to sell two milk cows to git all the money.
Pa’s words still make sense to me,
but you didn’t seem precisely satisfied.
One time I saw a calendar picture
of someplace called York-shire Dales
where the stone walls just seemed to sprout out of the ground.
Reminded me of a long line of gravestones holding hands
stretching someplace far distant nobody’s ever been.
Not sad, just peaceful like
with sheep and the thickest, greenest grass I ever saw
like a soft bed you could lay in and rest for days
while them walls stand guard.
Parts crumble and break
But the whole still stands up strong.
Did you see ‘em when you was overseas?
The walls, I mean.
I’d go to that place
if I had the money and time.
Me and Mabel stopped by here last week.
Your wife said you was off at some college recitin’ your poems.
Hope you told ‘em that one
about the boy swinging in a birch tree.
Here, take this pie.
Mabel made it
from them apples
you give us
last fall.