wood thrush

Far off through the woods, the bell-like notes of three wood thrushes—young ones mastering the music of their tribe before they disperse.

I can’t decide which I prefer: the thrush’s melancholy bells or a woodpecker’s rattle, the dark forest edge or the meadow full of mist.

Just after sunrise, a wood thrush lands in the trees across from the porch and looks quietly all around. Two hours later, he’s singing.

Walnut leaves are scattered all over the porch. What was the wind up to while I slept? In the woods, a migrant thrush expresses mild alarm.

When the mid-morning rain eases up, the phoebe comes out to hawk for gnats, and I hear the first wood thrush singing—those pure, sad notes.

A cerulean warbler sings at the woods’ edge, the same urgent, rising notes that woke me an hour earlier. But still no wood thrush.

A wood thrush fledgling lands on the lower bar of the fretwork spandrel, breast feathers disheveled, eyerings imparting a look of surprise.

Dawn. As light grows, more and more shades of green and gold emerge from the forest shadows. Bell-like notes of the first wood thrush.

Dawn: the soft wickering of a wood thrush. Three hours later: chipmunks’ incessant hammers. A tiny blue wasp explores the sunlit railing.

Dawn. A migrant wood thrush flits from branch to branch along the edge of the woods. In the yard, a grown fawn nuzzles its mother’s neck.

Whither the thrush whose ethereal notes woke me at dawn? A male towhee flies up to a sunlit branch and takes a shit, singing.

Wood thrush and cardinal song. A male hummingbird chases a silver-spotted skipper off the beebalm, then retreats to a dead branch to preen.

Wood thrush, cerulean warbler, red-eyed vireo, Baltimore oriole—song by song I tick them off as yellow petals fall from the tulip tree.

Each glaucous leaf of the bleeding-heart has rolled its rain into one fat bead. I’m wondering: where have all the wood thrushes gone?

Ground fog forms at dawn in the bottom corner of the meadow and quickly dissipates. The screech owl’s quaver gives way to soft thrush calls.

The ornamental cherry’s last leaves are dying. A silent wood thrush watches a tanager so scarlet it throbs in the light-drenched crown.