I stand mid-stream and thigh deep,
Fleet shadow on the water . . .
drops on wind, lands in a birch. I’ve
one before. No thought of fish now.
For full ten
minutes I gape.
step on land
careful to keep the tree he’s in
He hops behind the trunk as
A full circle
and no bird.
Three dull taps.
Three more. He’s in
He falls, drops across the river,
twice beats wing,
lights on a dead beach.
I am soon
waist deep ten feet beneath him.
He must fear the threat from land,
Now I am his and see
of him clear:
the blood crest and zebra throat,
the black sheen
of his back, the stiff feathers
he grasps bark
Infinitely patient he is
in threes and sevens and eights,
one man in all the world could do.
He chops from two sides just like a
Bark chips and wood dust
on my head.
patch he clears of bark then drills
a thumb hole,
then seems to give up (or has tongued
the gummy larvae)
and moves on.
that sticky membrane sheathed in iron.
All this is
repeated and repeated and
or blunts his intent.
He has mind:
curious, cruel, incisive,
he solves problems, remembers,
(if not wicked), devious, his
a thing that has come before and
I do not hear his wild call
I take no pleasure