Electric Fence by Michael Waters


For my son, 10


He dared me to touch my finger to the fence,

The fence which we’d been warned against.

Its wire whining mutely sparked my fingertip.

And he recalled the science teacher’s lesson

About current and conduction, so

Grasped my hand and squinched his lids

As I prodded the wire once more.

We yelped as the splinter of lightning

Tore through my limbs into his.

Four cows, eyeing us, drooled deep indifference.

Next he coaxed his reluctant mom

To affix herself to this human chain…

Now the electricity needled us,

Stitching red thread through all three of us,

And could have leapt cross-country

Citizen to citizen unstoppably,

But instead fused fast the DNA

Of our stricken—and still smoldering—family.

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