I listen when people talk to me. I mean I really, really listen. I choose nuggets of wisdom from their conversations and tuck them away for a time I might need them as I file them in some invisible cabinet in my brain. I am reminded today of a poem that was shared with me over 7 years ago. At the time I read it, it didn’t pertain to me. Or so I thought. Who could have know that one day, I would feel as if every word was about me and to me? Or that when my comfortable, routine, picket fence life that I loved imploded in an instant, these words would come back, both as a reminder and an a-ha moment? Or that I have not only the permission, but the ability to test my heart’s capacity to expand?
If you don’t know or read Jen Lee, please do. I won’t even try to tell you about her and her words, I will let them speak for themselves.
You Write to the Fence
by Jen Lee
You write all the way to the fence, then there’s nothing
left to do but tear it down and
expand the border. To stretch
your life by trading in Safe and Secure.
To stare the beast, It’s Not Enough, in the
face and let it off its leash.
It runs rampant–it eats the flowers,
plows down the picket fence and
knocks an entire side out of the house.
Its appetite for destruction finally
satisfied, it gives you one last look and
disappears into the woods in the back of
You weep at the rubble of the life
you constructed so carefully–at the
petunias you had color-coded and
lined up in rows.
What have you done?
What choice did you have?
You wrote all the way to the fence.
Your friends come to sit with
you in your mourning.
They are gentle, but refuse to
join you in your black garb.
White picket wasn’t your style, they say,
and then point to the field beyond
That wild meadow, though . . .
Their eyes giggle with the secret they
Finally the grieving grows stale,
you grow weary of drowning your days
You buy a new pair of boots, and set
off to explore the meadow with its prairie dog
holes and snakes, and butterflies you try to catch.
They surround you like the words flying around
your head and perching on your shoulder,
humming in unison with the insects.
You could walk until the sun sets without meeting
Instead you return to the house.
You crouch in the ruined garden, and then toss
wildflower seeds in its place.
You look at the building, with only three of
four sides standing, and you begin to
see an extension you could build.
A sun room, perhaps, or a greenhouse,
or a kitchen made entirely of glass and sunlight,
of panes that give raindrops a place
Your heart expands to inhabit your coming life,
regretting no more that you wrote all the way to the fence.