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Through Etzel

We are given a field guide to trees in Laura Madeline Wiseman’s latest book of poetry Through a Certain Forest, realizing as we step in that we are deep in the mythos of ourselves. Each poem is a persona, each tree species recounting its survival from humans. Us homo sapiens are the trolls lurking through the middle of the collection. In the midst of bombings and ecological disasters caused by us is the private life of the speaker, too, living with her own personal troll. Things are bleak, like the first half of a fairy tale. In a car on the freeway, the speaker thinks, “I want to ask how we’ll pay all the tolls still left before us.” We know there is always a cost. Yet the trees each have a voice of resistance as even laurels share, “Now we are the welcome—survivors, winners, and crowned.” We should be listening.

– Dennis Etzel, Jr., author of My Secret Wars of 1984