Elizabeth Tornes’ Between the Dog and the Wolf celebrates the richness of life’s twilight spaces: the transition space of August between summer and fall; roadsides, where the travel paths of humans intersect with those of animals; varied terrain—from yurt to creek— and the diversity of earth’s bounty.
Her poems reflect on the process of language itself, as the Ojibwe language blends with a secret language of the natural world. In this reverential way, Tornes turns the skill of her poetic eye on the contemporary life of Native Americans in northern Wisconsin. She takes us to pow wows, shows us boarding school beatings, honors the Ancestors. As refreshing as an unexpected summer rain, Between the Dog and the Wolf lets us into a world where people are predominantly good to one another, recognizing the divine in each living thing. And it’s this sanctity of life that allows her poems not only only to speak, but also to listen. Just like Dickinson’s famous line about the slant of light in late afternoon when “the landscape listens,/ Shadows hold their breath,” these pages are the meeting place between this world and the next.