“Fences” by Austin Smith.

Some to separate
Pasture from pasture in order
To clarify the prairie,

Others to surround the farm,
Keeping the world
Out and the herd in.

Between the barbs designed
To bloom at intervals
Measuring the span of a hand,

Redwing blackbirds scolded
Both nations of grass
The fence divided.

The posts that stood
Where they’d been driven
Knee-deep in limestone

Had begun to lean
Like men forced to march
Into the wind.

And where oak saplings
Had had the audacity to grow,
They’d had no choice

But to swallow the wire,
Remembering via rings
The anniversary of that first summer

They sensed the wire tapping
Their bodies, then began,
Tentatively, to accept it,

To take it in, feeling
The wire grow taut
In the grip of their bark,

Until they began to believe
They needed it
In order to stand.

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