Mending fences

The wind ripped out the flimsy fence that kept
A fragile peace between the warring horses.
In haste, we gathered torches, hammer, nails,
Electric wire, stout wooden posts and rails,
Zipped coats, pulled caps down tight and then set out
Like rustic sappers going up the line,
A slipping, stumbling, tripping, fumbling, slog
Across a no-man’s-land of mud and weather.
Together, in that wild, gale-whipped world
Of liquid ground and winter-hardened rain,
We drove posts deep, strung wire and hoisted timber,
The watching horses wondering why we laughed.
Till filthy, frozen, with our task fulfilled,
We marvelled at the first enduring thing
We’d ever built between us. And the last.


Another blank-verse retread of an old, previously unpublished free-verse piece, this from 2004. When I was about 15, my dad and I dashed out one foul winter night to the yard where our horses were living, to make some emergency fence repairs by torchlight in a howling gale. It’s getting on for 30 years ago now, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling of being out there with him, doing a real job of work together. This one’s for you, Pa. N.

10 thoughts on “Mending fences

  1. Hi Nick,

    this is so wonderful πŸ™‚ the whole adventure of fixing the fence in a Winters night together with your father.

    “We marvelled at the first enduring thing
    We’d ever built between us. And the last.”

    I think this means you had a good relationship with him πŸ™‚

    I was reminded through this poem of my first steps on the quay of Leningrad with my father when I was 15, in Winter, I was so exited that he was my father πŸ™‚ A great feeling, maybe you have to be 15 to feel like that…

    You made me want to write in rhyme once more so I did πŸ™‚


  2. Oh wow, this tugs at the heart and brings a tear to my eye–and perhaps you’ve inspired me to do a similar one, so thanks very much my poet friend. God bless you.

    • Thank you so much – my ol’ dad’s been going through a tough time lately, so I’ve been thinking about him a lot. And if it’s prompted something for you to write (especially if it’s metrical!) then my work here is done! Have a wonderful day. N. x

  3. Nick,

    This is absolutely fantastic!! You have totally painted the picture of that scene and I can see why you laughed too! It must have been a great feeling out there with your dad doing this job.

    And I enjoyed it too! – Looking at you through the window with one eye,working away, the other eye on a cosy fire in the living room, cup of tea in cupped hands!! :):)

    Christine xx

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