- Make a fence
said the rabbis, around the Torah. And this worldis lousy with them. More than we can counton our dog walk alone: chainlink and stone and white
wooden pickets. Fences to keep people's bad barking dogsin, to keep our bad barking dog out. His nostrils flaringwide as a twirled skirt as he reads the tales of past passersby
on fences that mark what is another's burden, another'sprivilege to tend, and what is open to the traffic of strangers.Called before the Torah, a reader tracks the cramped letters
with a yad, a metal pointer topped by a tiny pointing hand.If it feels colder than the air, it's because silver stealsyour body's heat, this tool to keep your place, to keep you
in your place, to keep you from marring even a single sacred letter.This, one fence among many: Do not bring the Torahin the bathroom, do not sit beside it on a bench, do not stand before it
naked (lest you be buried naked, stripped of all the good you did).But sometimes barriers grow so large it's hard to seewhat they're protecting. And here is the fig tree yearning
past its yard, reaching toward the walk with its fat-fingered leaves.Here, the arbor propping branches slumped as the shouldersof a weary giant—yet under its hunch, an exuberance of mulberries.
There, the yellow house whose bramble is more than worth its thorns:rops of ink dripping from the branches, the blackberries call usto make a quill of our tongues. Let every fence in my mind have a gate.
One with an easy latch and well-oiled hinges. Our neighborsurge us to indulge—There's more than we can possibly eat—sohere, love, is fruit with the sun still inside it. Let me
thumb the juice from your chin. Let us honor what we love by taking it in. [End Page 161]
jessica jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You're Going, winner of the Devil's Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and Pelvis with Distance, winner of the New Mexico Book Award. Chapbook editor for Beloit Poetry Journal, she coauthored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire with her wife, Nickole Brown.