Saturday, August 30, 2014

The woodpecker's nap

Isn't he beautiful? I am totally in love. I was sitting at the dining table working on the haiku anthology. And he ate and ate and ate suet. My camera was at my elbow, so I didn't have to get up to get it and scare him off. The lines of the window screen are visible in this picture; sometimes they don't show quite this much.

Then he paused a bit and ate some more. I typed in some haiku.

And then he stopped and TOOK A NAP! I swear it! See how relaxed he is; his eyes are closed. He slept for quite some time. When he woke up he ate some more suet.

And all the time, while the woodpecker was monopolizing the feeder, chickadees were dive-bombing the feeder zone, one at a time, from different directions. But not one ever landed on the feeder. Once in a while, one sat on the fence, like this, just looking. But the big bird was King of the Hill. Until he flew.

Tonight I have been looking at the poems in Canadian Nature Poems, which I got because Roo Borson is in it.  The link is to previous posts in which her poems appear.

I found some good poems; then I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a subject index? And there is! And there is a poem about the Pileated Woodpecker (no nap, though.) Here it is.

from "A Question of Questions"

for R.D.l.

The error lies in
the state of desire
in wanting the answers
wanting the red-crested 
woodpecker to pose
among red berries
of the ash tree
wanting its names
its habitations
the instinct 
of its ways for
my head-travelling
wanting its colours
its red, white, its black
pressed behind my eyes
a triptych
and over
and wanting the bird
to be still and
wanting it moving
whiteflash of underwings
dazzling all questions
out of me, amazement
and outbreathing
become a form
of my knowing.

I move and it moves
into a cedar tree.
I walk and I walk.
My deceiving angel's
in-shadow joins me
paces my steps and threatens
to take my head
between its hands.
I keep walking. 
Trying to think.
Here on the island
there is time
on the Isabella 
Point Road.
We pass a dead
deer on the beach.
Bloated. It stinks.
The angel insists, 'Keep 
walking.' It has all the time
in the world. Is sufficient.
Is alone. 'Keep walking.'
it says and flies off
with my head.

What's left of me
remembers a funny song
also a headless
man on rockface
painted in red
by Indian finger spirits.

The red-crested woodpecker swoops down
and sits on my trunk. Posing.
Dryocopus pileatus. 'Spectacular, black,
Crow-sized woodpecker with a red crest,
great size, sweeping wingbeats, flashing
white underwing.' Pileated woodpecker.
Posing. Many questions.
'The diggings, large oval or oblong holes,
indicate its presence.'

Zen Master,

Phyllis Webb

From Open Wide a Wilderness; Canadian Nature Poetry
Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009, page 213-214.

I don't know what the bits just before and just after the poem mean; I have copied them as they were presented in the book. Phyllis Webb's selected poems won the Canadian Governor General's Award in 1982.
Look at the effect of the many short lines in this longish poem. Try this out yourself. And it is always fun to put in bits of information you find in the bird book. Sleep well. Dream of flight.

1 comment:

  1. Would a dreaming woodpecker dream of flight, so ordinary and pedestrian to it? I would not dream of walking if I could choose my dreams.

    Not anonymous really (Nancy Heifferon)