downy woodpecker

Overcast and cold. I am listening to the woodpeckers the way one listens to a marimba, savoring the varied, rich tones of dead wood.

It’s cold. Small groups of leaves scurry this way and that. The machine-gun rattle of a downy woodpecker on an especially hard hollow limb.

Sunrise tints the clouds orange. I squint through eyelids made bleary with pink-eye and lack of sleep. A downy woodpecker’s soft rattle.

Dark and rainy. A loud tapping from the far side of the cherry snag next to the porch where a downy woodpecker must’ve spent the night.

Bright sun, cold shadows. Down in the hollow, two downy woodpeckers are engaged in a head-banging competition. The neighbor’s rooster crows.

The rapid-fire drumming of a downy woodpecker on a hollow limb. A field sparrow’s ascending call. My partner snaps a photo of her feet.

Loud traffic sound from the west. A downy woodpecker keeps interrupting his tapping to take short, zigzagging flights among the trees.

Snow swirls past the porch like an old film reel dense with the blemishes of time. Juncos chitter. A downy woodpecker’s light, steady taps.

A persistent knocking from inside the tall cherry stump. I walk around it: a downy woodpecker’s wingtip protrudes from a roosting hole.

The curious satisfaction of watching snow erase my own footprints. Up in the woods, the woodpeckers too are busy fixing what isn’t broken.

I bathe in the idea of sun more than in the sunlight itself—feeble and without much warmth. A woodpecker beats his head against a dead tree.

Windy and cold. A downy woodpecker works over the dead cherry, sounding like a fast hunt-and-peck typist. A towhee calls from the lilac.

A small woodpecker has found a resonant snag and works it for all it’s worth. A rival responds, but his rattle is too thin and he quits.