pileated woodpecker

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.

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.