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Norita Dittberner-Jax

Numbering the Oaks

How to manage
the hours, the hands
of the clock
that seem
to stick sometimes,
and lurch
ahead at others?
Without a compass,
she is hollow,
an empty
barn with the wind
tunneling though.
Toward evening,
an easing,
breath deepens,
waves of anxiety
melt away, as if
the trouble were in nature.
The sun slides
toward the horizon,
sending vibrations
through the sky,
casting shadow.
The trees,
her beloved trees,
ghostly at twilight,
keep their shadows close,
a comfort,
the reality of ghosts,
finally visible,
a brief appearance
of the truth
before night covers all.


"Meditation" was previously published as the 2nd part of a 3-part poem, "The  Demarcation of Light" published in 2012 in the Canadian publication, Room.  


Numbering the Oaks

I studied Aristotle in college,
baffled by treeness, essence of trees.
I thought I would understand it
by the time I was a senior.
I gave it up for sex
and babies.

Now I understand
in my body —
eyes, tracking the trail
of bark from trunk
to the explosion of limbs;
with my back and hands,
the work of them.

Is it the German in me?
Echo of the forest in the German character
still alive? Lover of trees, of woods.

Every year I grow more attached
until now I am spinning
myth, how they arise
from roots deep in the earth yet fly
into air; how they lose
their innocence in rain
and turn sexual;

but in winter, oh, winter,
without the distraction of leaves
oak trees whisper like giants
to heaven,
one pure
form to another.


Norita Dittberner-Jax is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program. Her thesis collection of poetry, Stopping for Breath, will be published by Nodin Press in the autumn of 2014.  Her poetry collections include What They Always Were (New Rivers Press), The Watch (Whistling Shade Press), and Longing for Home (Pudding House Press). Her poetry has won a number of awards and fellowships and has been nominated for the Pushcart and Minnesota Book Awards.  She is one of the poetry editors for Redbird Chapbooks and lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


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