Inside a Douglas Fir
Blood should be clear amber under tree
My lips open to form word
the woman who’s just invented (in her
red amber inside a fir tree.
My breath halts as my mind sees
of clear, hard amber
clumped on ridges of bark,
but instead, a warm
watering of transparent ooze—
rising through the rings
of a giant pinwheel of a stump:
this and the rough snowfall of sawdust
(to wipe from the knees)
all that remain of a tree that grew
through ninety winters. Too
to recite in a poetry class.
We would queue at the driveway
for peanuts or whatever left-over bit
Dad hadn’t eaten in the woods.
He’d set down his silver-domed hat,
and his hands would pry the
smell of bologna rising—
the quickest small hand
grabbing the half-sandwich. One day
Dad lifted the edge of a cardboard box.
a squirrel raced,
spinning into madness;
the loggers had felled a tree on its nest.
Another day he carried a bucket—
turtle’s mouth snapping in the water;
the stone feet
slapped like sandpaper
‘til we slid
him—fighting—into the creek.
One day Dad was early, but left his silver hat
and the lunch-pail sitting, dusty, on the car seat.
He slammed the screen door.
Next morning Mama talked into the phone,
her face turned to the window:
His partner was killed . . .
pinned under a tree.
The woman has finished reading the last
of her poem. Her sing-song phrases
fall into a canyon of silence.
I close my eyes, and
the red amber. It flows
in a slow river: crimsoning
the moss that cushions the dying
body of a Douglas fir.
"Inside a Douglas Fir" appeared in Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of
and was also published in Nita's
chapbook The Origin of Bear.
You know we have grown
this way for years. And to no purpose you
can understand. Yet what you fail to know we
know . . .
-- Susan Griffin.
From “Forest: The Way We
Countryman’s writing reflects a life responding to the forested
surroundings where she has lived since
Having been raised with three sisters and three brothers in the
rural foothills of the Cascade Range,
memories were formed from rain-soaked moss, from the creek that meanders
through the family
property, and from Douglas fir trees that still
tower over her daily existence.
elements enter her writing not as landscape, but – along with the
birds, deer, coyotes, and even black
that populate rural Southwest Washington
– as active agents gently guiding the tone and content of her
poetry has appeared in a number of journals, including Windfall,
Clackamas Literary Review,
Manzanita Quarterly, 4th
Spring Hill Review, Veljeysviesti, Avocet, Simply
The Portland Alliance,
and other publications.
She has received several awards, including three from the
State Poetry Association.
her MALS degree (with concentrated studies in literature) from Reed College,
her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanities (English) at Washington State University: Phi Beta Kappa.
Nita’s first poetry chapbook The
Origin of Bear was released by Finishing Line Press in 2006. Cover
photo by Jeff Rauch. Ordering
information for the book can be found here
latest poetry chapbook Out of the
Woods: Meadow and Roadside Songs was released by Finishing
Line Press in 2011. Cover
art by Sharon Bronzan. Ordering
information for the book can be found here.