Mending Wall

Mending Wall

Silhouette of a man in a heavy welding jacket and welding helmet holding a cable with a welding clamp on the end stepping from the back of a pickup truck onto a ladder that is leaning up against the US – Mexico border fence.

Mikal Jakubal
December 30, 2023

Sorry not sorry to Robert Frost.
And to the repair crew, no personal offense.
Thanks for letting me photograph you.
Your welds look great.


Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,


And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.


Straight-on view of the US – Mexico border fence looking into Mexico. About a dozen of the 6" x 6" steel bollards are visible. About 2 feet up, large sections of quarter inch steel angle iron are welded across the bollards to stabilize them. The bollard in the center has been cut through at the base and the angle iron has also been cut through. There are multiple steel plates that have been welded across the bollards about 6 feet high and subsequently cut through. The center bollard has a bunch of white chalk notations on it with the different dates indicating when the cuts were discovered and when they were repaired.
The U.S.—Mexico border fence showing the scars of many cuts and repairs. Each 6” x 6” square tube, called a bollard, is filled with concrete and rebar, but can still be cut with a torch or cordless grinder. Once severed at the base, the 30’ tall posts can be easily levered out of the way, creating an opening wide enough for people to pass through.

The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they would have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.

A close-up view from ground level of the base of the US – Mexico border fence. One of the 6" x 6" steel posts has been torch-cut entirely through, leaving a quarter inch gap.
This particular bollard has been cut and repaired many times. It will be cut again. If the repair is too solid, there are plenty of others to choose from.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls.

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

A man in a welding helmet, heavy brown welders jacket and gloves stands on a ladder leaning against the US – Mexico border fence. He is welding a 2-foot long piece of heavy angle iron horizontally between several of the vertical steel posts in the fence. Sparks and smoke are flying from the welding rods. To the left is a flatbed pick up with a blue welding generator, spools of welding cable and a work vice on the back.
Border Patrol welder adds a cross-bar to temporarily stabilize a bollard that has been cut through at the base. Attaching the brace up high will require the Mexicans to develop technology for designing and building 6' ladders, slowing them down considerably next time they want to cut through.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

Close-up of a welder in a welding helmet and thick leather welding jacket attaching a piece of steel to the US – Mexico border fence. Little red sparks are flying everywhere and the welder's work and face are illuminated by the bright white of the arc.

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.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.

A worker in a welder's helmet and a heavy brown leather welder's coat places a grapefruit size rock into a steel canister that is welded onto the steel bollards of the US-Mexico border fence.
A large stone is placed into the makeshift steel canister and then the top is welded shut, adding am extra step for someone trying to cut through with a grinding wheel.

I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.


Close-up of a welder in a welding helmet and thick leather welding jacket attaching a piece of steel to the US – Mexico border fence. Little red sparks are flying everywhere and the welder's work and face are illuminated by the bright white of the arc.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again,
‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ **

Long view into the distance down the road that runs beside the US – Mexico border fence. In the distance are blue gray desert mountains in the haze. To the left is a line of security lights on tall poles with yellow-brown desert underbrush beyond them. To the right, the rusty steel border fence rises up 30 feet and stretches into the distance along the edge of the road.
The repair crew tells me they repair five to ten cuts per day. Once they do the band-aid stabilization, a private contractor will come along and do a more serious repair. There are thousands of bollards, each of which easily is cut with a torch or cordless grinder in a few minutes.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall.

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:


Oh, just another kind of outdoor game.

** This last line in Frost’s original poem is not a promotion of fences and walls, but a sarcastic criticism of the simpleminded person who makes it into a thoughtless slogan, repeating it while totally oblivious to Frost’s playful attempts to get the farmer (and the reader) to reconsider it’s implications.

If you’d like to read the poem in its entirety, here’s one source https://poets.org/poem/mending-wall