The Border’s Closed

By Helen Stubbs

The border’s closed
But I’m on the right side
The bright side
It doesn’t feel very good.

The border’s closed
I can’t see lifelong friends
Waiting times are two and a half hours
It’s quicker on some streets.

The border’s closed
But they’ve opened another entry.
It depends on the time you try to pass –
Some days it’s quick.


Closed borders are like
A rubber band around your forearm
Shutting off the flow
Letting your fingers die,

Like a snake bandage
To stop the poison
Flowing under the skin.
The blood still flows.


I never knew borders could close.
So naïve.


It’s shut off the past
When we were one
And never imagined
Gates and barricades,
Police and army trucks
Tents, signs, cameras and fines,

Lines staked and enforced
Between north and south,
Between then and now.

Now we know

How much we can lose,
The divide between haves and have-nots
We are not one, not even two,

Never have been. It’s hard to cross.

Even harder to cross
Now the border’s closed.

Helen Stubbs lives on Australia’s Gold Coast. She’s an award winning fiction and feature writer with stories published in anthologies and magazines, including “Polymer Island” in Kaleidotrope and “Uncontainable” in Apex Magazine. She’s a creative producer and interviews speculative fiction writers for the podcast Galactic Chat. For fun she likes to bushwalk, mountain bike, climb rocks, read, and devour Netflix series. Catch up with her at @superleni on Twitter or discover more about her work and adventures at

Writing during the pandemic is essential for me, but I also feel like I need to be careful when writing about it, because I’ve suffered so little compared to those who’ve experienced serious losses. I’m mindful to not complain about less devastating conditions than others have experienced. When I consider that so many people have died in other countries it puts my experiences into perspective. What I’m going through is nothing, compared to those tragedies, yet I still believe it’s worth sharing our experience.

It can be hard to write about something as terrible as a pandemic, but it’s also cathartic, and I feel the need to express my reaction to these new conditions which, as my poem expresses, I never imagined could emerge. I feel very grateful for the good management achieved by our states’ health systems, in Australia, but it is lonely and limiting to be physically divided from national and international literary communities. While the internet is wonderful for maintaining communication, meeting people, human to human, provides so much more. I really hope that with a vaccine we can all begin to travel and share international experiences again.

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Olivia Tuck
Olivia Tuck
10 months ago


Alan B Thomas
Alan B Thomas
11 months ago

Thank you for this, Helen, an evocative and thought-provoking piece. It remined me of crossing the border between West and East Berlin many years ago; you really understand what a border means when it’s reinforced with a massive wall. You can still find one today in Nicosia dividing the two parts of Cyprus . . . Unfortunately, it looks as if we may be living with much more obvious borders for years to come.

Kathryn Green
11 months ago

Wow, love this

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