Boundary Wall “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”. “He moves in darkness as it seems to me.” Robert Frost, Mending Wall. My neighbour calls to ask my time To inspect the wall That runs between his house and mine. I follow his bent back, Behind which tight-clasped, His hands are counter-weight It seems to some unstable joint. He rolls on the loose rock Of the rough road, While at my heels his dog, All its imagination bred In the ecstasy of droving, Sheep, car or man. This collie knows the wall well, Scrambles over it most mornings To follow the fox-trail down Under the hazel-hedged lawn, Past where years ago, A companion house, Once stood. Arriving at the spot, Ignoring the dog’s playfulness, We stop and look At the misdemeanour of the wall. Some rocks have tumbled out of place From the dry stone wall That forms, at best of times, An unstable boundary Between us both. It needs consent to spend Some time together, And repair the stand it makes. For in the fossils of this stone, Is stored the bonded molecule, The tooth and claw Of our discomfiture. My ash pit is to blame. The rain has made a slimy residue With what remains of wood and turf That seeping between Lets slip the rock. I view the long line of wall, Encrusted as it is with Ivy spikes And blossom from the Thorn, Being now not so much his neighbour As the outsider I am brought to see, From his perspective, The full irony of my place. My offer to help (Always unnecessary) Is foolish now. His tractor will make repair. “This is the trouble with burning turf”, he says, I tell him that mostly I burn logs To help preserve the bogs. As he turns towards the house I do not see his face, The dog is pissing by the tank for oil, It looks up concerned, And finished, takes me to the gate, Unfriendly with my departure. I put the kettle on the hob Angry with this arthritic man Who admonishes me For causing the wall to fall, Mocks the anachronism Of my endeavour, “Not many people in these parts Would manure a hedge”. And some years ago My scattering of wild seeds Meant I coveted the field. What other explanation could there be? Lines like walls often fall And try as I might, Within the walls of this stone cottage, I cannot always find my voice.