America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)



The Great Wall of Pie

1 February 2016

Migrating towards the Southern border, thousands of low level shrubs quietly move through the mean countryside by night when the piercing sun has fully subsided. By day, they find respite wherever darkening shade and cooling, necessary water can be found.

The arriving potential transplants to first settle in as groundcover are the extremely short Mexican heathers. Having been completely integrated into the unfolding landscape, these plants are now considered native.

The medium height Mexican Oxeye daisies, though declared by some to be classified as later invaders, arrive unhassled and soon create an additional level of life slightly above that of the ground-clinging heathers. These daisies, along with their companion Mexican Mint marigolds and Mexican petunias, not only survive but prosper well in the harsh Borderlands. Meanwhile, much later migrants who have found acceptance anSomewhere near the Southern border within the Homeland itself lives an old man with his three kindly, but odd-shaped sons. One is nearly as tall as a telephone pole; the second is burlier than a blown-up balloon, and the third is the actual small size of a tuning fork.d success difficult in their tentative new homeland choose to self-deport literally from their perilous touch and go situation. Lastly, some undocumented others are unceremoniously rounded up and after a spell sent back from whence they came.

Honey mesquite trees, whose later branches are numerous and gnarly and with taproots ultimately running deep, hopscotch their way Northward by being smuggled first as seeds in being transported within the droppings of wandering, grazing cattle. Recently fallen bean pods open in time and their seeds are eaten, digested, then deposited to the ground in moist clumps to begin tree life anew as soon as the battering winds and heavy seasonal rains pour down.

Roosting in the limbs of every inviting tree are the raucous plain Chachalachas a.k.a. locally as Mexican Tree Pheasants. Perhaps to get to another level and to soar above the din below are the Mexican Whistling ducks, who can go anywhere that their bodies and gentle winds can take them. In being free-flying so high, these birds do not heed blockage from weathered, ragtaggle wooden fences nor suffer the pains, wounds and possible death arising from the devilish barbed wire fences zigzagging for miles about, keeping Somethings In and keeping Something Elses out.

There is no real explanation as to how this unusual progeny came about except that early on the old man had cavorted with many passing local women who themselves may have come from parents of uncertain lineage.

Each afternoon the old man would rest in his once new-imported Mexican-made easy chair, which now was puffy and starting to actually decay. Brooding, then napping, then awakening, and brooding again, he wondered how he could protect his unusual family from the snooping eyes of neighbors and strangers.

While snoozing and brooding as he habitually did each day, he hazily saw in the open doorway what appeared to be an extremely short and colorfully dressed person of uncertain age and origin. The unexpected visitor entered and stopped in front of the old man and, waving his yellow plumed hat in a broad gesture, spoke these words:

“Build a wall with peanuts and pie,

Build a wall with mortar high,

Build a wall with scarecrows’ eyes,

But build a wall and the wind will rise!”

With finishing this admonition, the visitor walked backwards towards the doorway still waving his largish hat, vanishing abruptly as most strangers offering magical messages are wont to do. The old man now knew that his seemingly forever problem could be solved and that he had the right roadmap as to how to exactly do it.

He rushed over to his ancient steamer trunk brimming full with his lifetime savings. Scouring first the local markets, then the larger world itself, he purchased millions and millions of needed scarecrows’ eyes, tons and tons of bursting peanuts and vat upon vat of apple and orange gum pie.

Once all the special ingredients had arrived and piled throughout his own grounds, he began in earnest to build the Great Wall that had been called out for him to construct. Ladders and rope pulleys enabled him to build the wall higher and higher. Pails and more pails of the decreed mortar were troweled on smoothly and most gleefully by him, as he advanced from level to level.

Happily, he went up the traversing scaffolding for the last time as the Great Wall had reached nearly beyond the sky. Sighing, he went all the way up and looked down from the top of the wall to the hinterlands and River beyond with pride. He had built something that would keep invaders and sightseers out forever!

After gloating for the longest time at what he perceived to be the beauty of the Great Wall, he began the long trip down the inside of the wall by utilizing the very ladders and rope pulleys that were still in place.

As he came down, a howling wind began to blow harder and harder against the outside of the wall. As the momentum of the wind gained strength, the Great Wall quivered, shimmied, teetered and shook violently. But the old man could not feel any of this as he was coming down the inside of the wall!

When at last he reached the ground, he stepped back to admire what he had singlehandedly done. The peanuts and pie laden constructed wall gave one last shiver. It fell over and buried the old man! The Great Wall had fallen and the old man was dead! The trumpeting news was heard loud and clearly via the connecting grapevines throughout the land!

Soon the homestead was overrun by wave upon wave of newly arriving migrants. Plants, shrubs and trees came first as lingering sightseers but then were quickly sent onwards to even larger territory than that of the Borderlands by the three odd-shaped sons as they happily cheered and waved them forward to their new life ahead in The Great Land.

Dr. Arthur H. Smith is a retired professor of economics now living and writing on a small ranch near the Arizona – Mexico border. He has witnessed the phenomena of the 1960's hippies arising and scattering and now the same with Mexican immigrants to the USA.