restricted access Boundaries
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65 Boundaries “Good fences make good neighbors.” —Robert Frost It’s a big country, live and let live, free to be you and me, etc., with malls like monuments to Freedom and also with the big, idiot prairie, where you can choose which cow to talk to. Oh Freedom’s famous in America, but sometimes I think of the fence Frost praised, or pretended to, the way you can bisect a hillside and presto, two hillsides, one for each of you. How you can draw a line across a paper and have both earth and sky. Think how a fence can be five thin wires, like a bass clef that runs on for miles guarding wheat and soybeans, the way a campaign speech might drone on. And less flimsy, I can tell you, than the barricade of air between my study and the living room where my son stands right now, threatening to ask for clean socks. Where would we be without boundaries, including fragile ones like the line between land and water, where the ocean lies down like a golden retriever in a downstay so faithful that glaciers will melt before he alters his obedient heart? Or without the horizon that goes on mumbling its secret mantra at the edge of wheat fields, no matter how many developments we erect to blot it out? And I’d like to praise the way we have invented our own small boundaries, the basketball rim where the nervous fat ball hangs out 66 to discover its fate: to score or, sadly, not. And the edge of this page, where the world begins again. And the actual bass clef—call it a five-wire fence— that holds Bach’s counterpoint, which, in the next room, keeps trying to break out, like my son, who has shattered the air lock now, and walks into my study, all smiles, all charm. ...


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