Fences Tight to the Ditches

Don’t fence me in, said my student just as the foil
perforated his safety vest, slid straight around his vital
organs, manufacturer’s defect, said the coach, fence

denying blame. And haven’t the animals begun
to watch, crows flapping up as my wheels approach,
squirrels running straight across the road

instead of zigzagging. In Maine I saw a bobcat halt
and swivel right and left like a remaindered child,
we can learn, can’t we? Who imagined the punctured

boy would survive the parry to skid off six years later
when his motorcycle hit a van at a traffic blare.
The day he graduated from Oberlin. That space.

I suppose he lay there, his black gown fluttering.
In Wyoming, they say, pronghorns crawl
under barbed wire, deer tangle in headlight.


Cover of TLR's "Heaven" issueLois Marie Harrod’s sixteenth collection, Nightmares of the Minor Poet, appeared in June. Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis and How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth, in 2013. Widely published in journals and online, she teaches creative writing at TCNJ.

“Fences Tight to the Ditches” originally appeared in Heaven (TLR Fall 2016)