Peeled flesh of a black walnut leaks pus onto the sidewalk, more indelible than a blood stain. A woodpecker cackles from a bone-white snag.
Rust-colored leaves hiss and rustle under a slate-gray sky. A blue jay struggles to fly with its gullet full of nuts.
The whining scold-calls of squirrels, agitation of chipmunks, denunciation of a crow: soundtrack for a gray morning with one white hawk.
In the pouring rain, a six-point buck rips leaves off a lilac branch that the storm broke down, his antlers the same color as the break.
A yellow barberry bush at the edge of the woods trembles violently: two deer are stripping the fruit from its thorny branches.
Most of the edge and understory trees are bare now, and I can see under the oak canopy clear to the crest of the ridge and the sky beyond.
Two leaf-sized flames circle the trunk of a sunlit oak: pileated woodpeckers. Wings open like a fortuneteller’s deck of cards.