As a child I spent a lot of time in backyards, most of us did, but one in particular sticks in my mind. My aunt’s backyard was, at least, twice the size of her house. It began with rolling grass, marred by a wooden swing set, continued into a sandbox and slab of concrete –good for games of horse and free throws—and came to a head in front of a garden. Small bunches of lettuce sat at the front alongside strawberries, carrots, and tomatoes, followed by snap pea plants that had climbed as high as my ponytail. In the back, sunflowers and cornstalks towered above me, sheltered me in their pollen-yellow glow. But just beyond them was the biggest point of interest – a forest, or so it felt to us, of impossibly tall and dense trees. It was dark and cool and scary in a way that made us want to enter. We shored ourselves up, made plans for escape before entry, gathered provisions from the garden and cradled them in shirts upturned into baskets. We pushed our way in and the forest swallowed us up the way we expected it to, the way we needed it to. And though the forest never became less scary, we entered over and over again, preparing each time as though we hadn’t conquered it before. Because, even though our small bodies beat with fear, our need to explore the depths of those trees beat greater.
The Irish novelist James Stephens once said, “Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” As an adult I can recognize that this forest was no more than a small grove of trees pinned into my aunt’s backyard by a beautiful maple fence and a large garden, but it was never the scope of the forest that mattered, simply our attitude when over taking it.
The pieces in this issue exhibit that attitude, that childlike curiosity. They acknowledge fear while refusing to be held by it. They explore with and without reservation. They demand answers. They demand progress. They are the girls on your block refusing silence, the children refusing secrets. They have an unwavering view of humanity that demands change. They are not afraid of you.
This issue has stunned Jesse and I, has left us breathless. These authors have humbled us with the quality of their work and their choice to send it here. We are honored to present this issue and we hope that it leaves as much of an impression on you as it has on us.
Hannah Newman & Jesse Ewing-Frable
Sweet Tree Review