pileated woodpecker

In the valley, two train whistles—one high, one low. Down-hollow, two drumming woodpeckers—likewise. A clearing wind dries the heavy dew.

A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm with a rattle of wings, the elm swaying. Below in the lilac a titmouse hammers away at an acorn.

Just in from the woods’ edge, pileated woodpeckers are carrying on like drunks at a party, hollering, pounding, shrieking with joy or rage.

The sky darkens, squirrels and jays scold an unseen threat, a pileated woodpecker makes a histrionic exit. Then nothing. The sky brightens.

A warm morning, and all I hear are the birds of winter: chickadee, nuthatch, pileated woodpecker. A dead cranefly dangles from a spiderweb.

Noise from the quarry—a grinding drone that runs under everything: oriole song, woodpecker drumming, a hummingbird’s Geiger-counter clicks.

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.