Dear fence…

Dear fence – I want to feel you as if before adulthood, when I had no words for packaging understandings, pressing a cheek against your links, piercing hands through your small openings, springing against your metal bounds. Let’s have a measuring contest: you grab the lip of the tape and I will walk along you, pretending your infinity is quantifiable. I will say, you are the stratosphere: if I push a shovel through you, it doesn’t return. Do you keep the air in?

A fence performs a playground into existence.
You are in on this side.
You are out on the other.

The very idea of a fence, an edge signifies a binary existence.

But could resistance, too, reside on the edge? As in the repulsive forces between a mug and a hand holding it…

… what you are actually sensing, physicists tell us, is the electromagnetic repulsion between the electrons of the atoms that make up your fingers and those that make up the mug <..> Try as you might, you cannot bring two electrons into direct contact with each other.

Barad, 2015; TransMaterialities. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 21(2-3), 387-422, p. 396

In Thomas King’s story “Borders” (1993; in One good story, that one (pp. 131-148), to the question “Canadian side or American side?”, the narrator’s mother responds “Blackfoot side” (138).

Blackfoot side.
Crossing the border not allowed.
Sleeping in the car.
Blackfoot side.
Pressing stories into her son’s memory.

bell hooks (2008; A place where the soul can rest. In Belonging: A culture of place (pp. 143-152), too, uses that word when she writes about porches in the Southern US town of her childhood as “a revolutionary threshold <…> a place of anti-racist resistance” (148).

Hanif Abdurraqib (2018; For the Dogs Who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut) pauses on an edge of a sidewalk defying “buildings here / and the people inside / who look at my name / and make noises / that seem like growling”. Does the choreography of relationships, politics, and ethics intensify on the edge?

Running fingers along the metal, getting caught in the links of a playground fence, can we stitch together what it pretends to separate:

“there is a sky / to be pulled down / into our bowls / there is a sweetness for us / to push our faces into”?