Talking drums—two pileated woodpeckers on opposite ridges. Rain taps on the roof. The green wall of leaves at the woods’ edge is filling in.
Overcast and cold. I am listening to the woodpeckers the way one listens to a marimba, savoring the varied, rich tones of dead wood.
At the woods’ edge, the tulip poplar sprouts a scarlet thorn: pileated woodpecker. A gust of wind drops a dried leaf into my lap.
A yellow smear of sun on the white-bread sky. The distant knocks of a pileated woodpecker seeking admittance to frozen galleries of ants.
Crystal clear and quiet, except for the methodical hammer-blows of a pileated woodpecker performing surgery on a tree afflicted with ants.
Cold and gray. Two doves sit motionless in a tall locust. A pileated woodpecker skulks through the woods, silent save for its wingbeats.
Pileated woodpeckers fly back and forth cackling, their wings black and white as newsprint amid the cathedral-window colors of the leaves.
Another cool and cloudless morning. The hollow echoes with the croaks of ravens. A pileated woodpecker taps on the side of my house.
Another perfect day. From just inside the woods’ edge, the sledgehammer blows of a pileated woodpecker destroying a city of ants.
Overcast and cool. A catbird scolds something in the lilac. Crickets. A pileated woodpecker whinnies once and begins to tap.
Have the flickers fledged? Their den hole gapes, silent. Is absence of evidence evidence of absence? A pileated woodpecker’s wild laughter.
Snowstorm. Two male cardinals meet on a white branch and stare at each other. A third red crest flashes in the woods: pileated woodpecker.
From down-hollow, a pileated woodpecker comes yelling straight over the house, lands and falls silent, joining its mate to forage for grubs.
A pause in the sleet. It’s plenty cold enough for snow, but all we get is this glassy grit. A pileated woodpecker whinnies up on the ridge.
In the weak sun, a violent sneeze possesses me. It echoes off the hillside, sets a squirrel to scolding. A pileated woodpecker drums.
The sun slowly dims in the whitening sky. Soft taps of a woodpecker. The flashing orange light on the roof of the meter reader’s truck.