stream

In the holiday silence, a pileated woodpecker hammering a high-pitched snag is the loudest thing. The stream gurgles. Distant church bells.

The stream’s dark thread. A jay pierces it with his bill three times. The scarlet oak I planted so long ago is flying all its red flags.

The barberry beside the stream is turning from the inside out: under a green cloak, salmon pink, blood-red beads, the hurdy-gurdy of a wren.

A silver-spotted skipper flies back and forth in front of the porch a dozen times. A grackle comes in croaking for a drink from the creek.

The crackle of a grackle. The boosterism of a rooster. The incessant cheer of a vireo. My ears take refuge in the creek, that labile Babel.

Two crows fly past, staying just inside the woods’ edge. Over the several voices of the creek, a cerulean warbler’s ascending, buzzy trill.