with apologies to Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that
propels staff to keep bothering Anne, Maryellen, and
Donna, and talk about things that spill way beyond school
business, and make huge gaps in time even two can pass
abreast. The problem of students is yet another thing,
like yelping dogs with their constant demands, and we
teachers stare them down, trying our best to hurry their
stay, so we can continue good conversations about family
and many personal things, to listen to wise words, and
then there’s those great peals of laughter we want to hear.
(Okay, also the occasional xeroxing we like to sneak in,
“Just two or three sheets!” we’ve been known to whine).
Actually, no one can see the gaps in time, but they are there,
and grow wider by the hour. So they called Jim Keith, and
he sent Mike down to walk the line and to set a wall between
us, that they might actually finish their work by day’s end.
Otherwise, in this small school, we do not need the wall.
It’s as if we are apple orchard and they are pine, and
our apple trees will never get across to eat their cones.
But they just said, “Hey, we’ve got to get some work done.”
Burned out by grading and crazed by winter, I decided to
make a joke, so I teased, How come the wall? Why will
it make things better? Isn’t it where there are cows.
But here there are no cows. Before I built a wall I’d ask
to know what I was walling in or walling out, and to whom
I was like to give offense. After all, something there is
that doesn’t love a wall. That wants it down. And they just
answered, “Look, don’t be so sensitive. Don’t take offense.”
And then they liked what they had said before so much, they
repeated, “Hey, we’ve got to get some work done,” adding
now, “And by the way, we’re also taking our counter back.”
The new wall blocks the windows, so I looked around the

mailroom in the dark, darkness, as it seemed to me, not of
woods only and the shade of trees, reminding myself to tell
them they will have to laugh louder now, and that wall or no,
I will keep knocking, because something there is that doesn’t
love a wall, that wants it down, even when it’s for the best.

January 24, 2000

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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