High winds. The tall cherry stump beside the porch has finally toppled, lying on the ground with all its small holes like a cartoon monster.
The old cherry stump beside the porch has once again attracted a pair of nest-minded chickadees. They pop in and out of its many holes.
Fog like a soundproof room. As always, the dead cherry’s five splayed stumps are giving the middle finger to the road—to whatever comes.
Outlined against the sky, the birch with its finches like leaves animated by separate winds. A downy woodpecker rattles in the cherry snag.
A shimmer of moisture in the air. A catbird lands on the cherry stump, cocks his head at me, and sings four notes through a half-open bill.
Everything moves in the wind but the broken dog statue, the dead rosebush, and the five-fingered cherry stump raised as if in surrender.
Dark and rainy. A loud tapping from the far side of the cherry snag next to the porch where a downy woodpecker must’ve spent the night.
Cool and humid. A chickadee and bluebird perch side by side in the walnut tree before flying down into their respective holes in the stump.
The decrepit stump next to my porch now houses a second nest: chickadees have moved into the hole below the bluebirds. Sun. A distant raven.
Both bluebirds land on top of the stump, look at me, and warble aggressively. In the lily-of-the-valley bed, the bells are fading to brown.
I’d thought the bluebirds’ nest in the stump next to the porch had failed, but no: they just wait till I’m gone to go in. I am their troll.
The bluebirds perch side by side on a branch, facing the dead cherry and their hidden, ravenous brood. A fat groundhog runs across the yard.
The woods’ edge is a collage of pastels: just-opened leaves, catkins, maple keys. The old cherry stump chirps like a phone: baby bluebirds.
Two chickadees inspect the old cherry stump for potential nest holes, tapping, exploring its hollow core. Up on the ridge, a turkey gobbles.