Learning to Live with Our Neighbor's New Fence

Keith Taylor

Keith Taylor

Learning to Live with Our Neighbor's New Fence was accepted as to MSUL's Short Edition program as part of a call for submissions around the theme of "Home" and in coordination with the Broad Art Museum's exhibit "Where We Dwell." Keith Taylor has authored or edited 18 books and chapbooks, most recently Let Them Be Left: Isle Royale Poems. His last full length collection, The Bird-while won the Bronze medal for the Foreword/Indies Poetry Book of the Year. He has received Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, among others. He worked for most of 20 years as a bookseller, before teaching for a few years in the writing programs at the University of Michigan.

We hope our new neighbors didn't build
their fence because we did something wrong.

Maybe they just want to keep their dog in
or be comfortably naked in their hot tub.

It's possible they don't like the look of our wild backyard,
unraked for the sake of bugs and butterflies.

Maybe they get worried when I walk out there
in every season wearing binoculars, watching for migrants.

They haven't lived here long enough to see the ash
and mulberry trees come down under snow or ice.

They don't know that our black walnuts and cherries
could drop a limb in any reasonable wind.

The trees might turn their fence to kindling
and there's no way we're paying to fix it.

They won't smell our compost when we move it
closer to their wooden wall (we're good with odor).

They probably won't expect the vines
we'll plant or the elves and fairies

of rot we'll encourage, spreading
slowly into their back corner.

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