ruffed grouse

A ruffed grouse drums and a field sparrow sings with almost the same accelerating rhythm. The hollow gurgle of the stream under the yard.

A galaxy of sparkles in the yard where the sunlight hits a patch of frost. The fourth-quarter moon hangs low over the trees. A grouse drums.

Overcast and unseasonably warm. The scent of corn wafts up from the valley. A distant throbbing that could be a grouse or a diesel engine.

Thick fog and silence, punctuated by the low, almost infrasonic throbs of a drumming grouse. The nasal cries of a fish crow pass overhead.

Gray sky. Distant drumming of a grouse—so faint, it could be the mountain’s own heartbeat. A rabbit in the lilac scratches behind its ear.

That drum so low it sounds as if it’s in your head? A ruffed grouse, beating the air with its wings like one hand clapping. Or so they say.

Another gray morning. From behind the house, a field sparrow’s ascending note, like a translation of ruffed grouse drumming into song.