flicker

Clear and dead still. A flicker lands on the elm snag and pokes into the old den hole. Her wings, when she flies, glow yellow in the sun.

A sharp-shinned hawk keeps chasing flickers in the yard; they yell at the effrontery and circle right back each time. A wren chatters alarm.

Ground fog in the corner of the meadow glowing faintly pink in the sunrise. A flicker flies out of the old den in the dead elm tree.

Have the flickers fledged? Their den hole gapes, silent. Is absence of evidence evidence of absence? A pileated woodpecker’s wild laughter.

Just audible over the tractor: a tanager’s hoarse song. The male flicker flies out of its nest hole carrying an offspring’s white fecal sac.

A half-hour after sunrise, the flickers arrive at the elm from different directions, copulate twice, and go back to work on the nest hole.

The hole in the dead elm is emitting puffs of dust: a flicker cleans house. Just beyond: scarlet tanager! Then the cardinal’s humdrum red.