pileated woodpecker

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.

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.

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.

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.