The woodpeckers

More of April itself appears in today’s National Poetry Month poem-a-day challenge, which I suppose is apropos.

I’m now aware that Lesley Wheeler has also been challenging herself to compose a poem a day this month, per this post on her blog. Quite a few poets have committed one way or another to adding poetry to the world each April! Those of us with full-time careers often need some kind of nudge to remind ourselves to take time to do what we love.

And those of us employed in academia are currently facing end-of-Spring-term grading, upcoming commencement ceremonies, graduation and award banquets, and other time-consuming responsibilities as the academic year draws to a close. So: keep writing, Self!

~

All the Little Aches

The small woodpecker’s repetitious tock tock tock
against an old mulberry tree, at dawn,
unlocks the little aches and bids them go
into the wakened body. If only, after sleep,

like the old mulberry tree at dawn,
the body would awaken into frantic buds
and not a weakened body only sleep
half-heals until it settles, somewhat twisted,

like a bough. Awake, the frantic buds
of April burst, unfurl. Tick of the bedside clock
as woodpecker’s repetitions–tock tock tock–
unlock the little aches and let them go.

~

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bird in hand

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Bent & broken II

stunned (downy woodpecker)

stunned (downy woodpecker)

This summer, it seems the birds have fledged a bit later than usual–not by much, but enough for me to notice. And this crop of birds seems to be a reckless bunch of adolescents. At least twice a day I hear a soft, feathered body thud against a windowpane.

 

~

 

We have taken a few of the actions recommended by the Humane Society (see page here if you want some advice), but some of our windows are quite high off the ground and we haven’t been able to bird-proof all of them. Most summers we hear just a few thuds, find the occasional body of a casualty or rescue a stunned survivor before a neighborhood cat gets it.

This year? I think I’ve heard two dozen thuds during the past 10 days. I am surprised at how many of the injured simply recover from their brief concussion, sit dazed for a few seconds, or continue to fly; but youth is resilient.

 

~

 

This woodpecker, for example, was more dazed than most. But it gradually calmed itself into a recuperated state and hopped off my hand and into the hedgerow.

~

dazed but recuperating

dazed but recuperating

~
I always come away amazed at such encounters with “wild animals.” There is so much I don’t know about them. They are gorgeous. I find myself spending long minutes just examining the details of a feather, a toenail (claw-nail?), a tongue, an eye.

It seems a privilege to hold one, and a privilege to let it go.

 

Even though this bird will no doubt repay me by tearing more holes in the wooden siding of our house.

 

Well, the birds were here first.

~

Not as lucky, this poor beauty was, alas, “maximally bent and broken.” Like the language of poetry.

 

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Interruptions

The recent freak snowstorm brought silence to my house in the form of power losses: no refrigerator humming, no dishwasher or washing machine, no furnace fan, no well-pump running, no electronic sounds. After working outside to clear fallen boughs and cut back broken shrubs, I felt physically tired each evening.

I find that physical exhaustion often inspires me to write because I am mentally alert but able to find physical stillness. I can pick  up a notebook and a pen and stay in a cozy chair–or under a pile of warm blankets–and jot down poems and ideas. I don’t get as “antsy” as I do when I have not exerted myself so much.

Today, the power came on again after almost three days. I had cut back the broken buddleia stems and cleaned the house. I had a few quiet hours for reading and concentration.

I was interrupted by picoides pubescens, the downy woodpecker. A pretty bird that hammers at our wood-sided house, especially when the weather’s been nasty. I find it difficult to get my thoughts onto paper when a one-ounce feathered creature is pounding away at the cornerboards, drilling 2-inch holes into the cedar and distracting the writer at her work.

Blame the bird for my lack of productiveness today? Well, maybe I needed to mull over my ideas a bit longer.

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/downy_woodpecker/videos