No Pine Tree in this Forest is Perfect

Goldsmith, Ellen

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Aug-26-2005
  • Last revised: Sep-01-2006


This collection of poetry evolves from one woman’s experience with the discovery of a lump in her breast, the removal of the breast, the assault of follow-up treatment and its impact on her sense of self as well as the relationship with her husband and her environment. The poems are brief, pointed, and deeply reflective of the author’s relationship with her surroundings and her history.

Among the issues the poems most effectively address is that of loss: "I dream of losing / my car, my purse, my period" (from "On First Learning of the Lump"); and "The world’s not keeping things safe / The world’s taking away what I want" (from "What I Want"); and "You believed your dead body / would have all its fingers / all its knowledge" (from "Apologia").

The author also speaks to the importance of breasts ("Terrain") as an integral part of who she is, and the memories of times past in which she was whole as one with nature ("Bird Feeder," "Pine Forest," "Peonies").


The poems as poems are powerful, terse, and easily accessible. The author addresses some of the pain and terror of encounters with the health care system that deserve consideration by professionals ("Bone Scan," "Chemotherapy," "Silent Treatment"). There is also the sense of real tenderness in the poems about relationships during the ordeal, and the overriding metaphor of nature and the environment as it relates to wholeness and loss suffered by an individual member of nature’s realm.


Slapering Hol

Place Published

Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.



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