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Contents
Essay

Beyond the pale

Rethinking the fences between us

My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’

Robert Frost, ‘Mending Wall’

 

‘HEY, DON’T CLIMB that fence!’

It was perhaps an innocent warning to my five-year-old son, intended for his protection. But I was incensed. Why shouldn’t my son clamber along the line of suburban fences as we meandered down the street? Was the warning really about his safety, or about encroaching on private property? When I responded that he was fine, and anyway, people shouldn’t build dangerous fences with spikes on top, the stranger retreated behind that very fence.

We continued to the local hardware store, the little one now glued to my side, sensing my irritation. At the store entrance, in bold black letters, was an advertisement for ‘good neighbour fences’ – galvanised iron fences gleaming in the morning sun. The claim related to the... Read more

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From Griffith Review Edition 61: Who We Are © Copyright Griffith University & the author.

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