By Rowan Willow
November 13, 2018
Visiting the border fence in Nogales, Arizona brought up a lot of troubling and conflicted feelings for most of us. Even though the fence is a consistent political issue in contemporary American life, one that is constantly being discussed on the news, social media, and in our everyday lives, many of us had never seen it. While we can have a theoretical view of deeply complex political issues based on how much we know, and how we process these layers of information, I doubt many political issues have such a concrete physical manifestation as this fence and the other historical walls built to keep people out. One immediate impression of the fence is that it is aesthetically pleasing. The way it dissects the clear blue sky, the linear shadows settling themselves across the topography of the environment, and the snakelike creeping of it along the dramatic hills of Nogales as far as you can see in both directions marked it some sort of twisted beautiful object. If the term “power” can be used from a purely visual standpoint that does not call upon oppressive political structures or a bloody history, then the power of the fence was magnificent. But, because it cannot be disambiguated from those aspects, it was horrifying and macabre.
Life continued on both sides of the fence. The day was beautiful, gourds grew plentifully, and music and laughter came from the southern side. The northern side was much quieter- we seemed much more afraid of it. Cats and birds took no mind to it and crossed it as they pleased. The fence is an obstacle for some, and an easily avoided structure for others. Water doesn’t resist it, nor do root structures, nor plants that rise through cracks in its concrete base. No matter what injustices are imposed upon people, life must continue. That’s another thing that is both terrifying and beautiful.