Woodpecker by Sandra Alcosser
On the day the poppies
burst their tight green fists
and the geum and the geranium
bloomed all bloody red
and ruby, so the pileated woodpecker
He ricocheted off the pine trunk,
and picking among the yellow bugs
sped quickly to the pea vines.
Fat-breasted, he drilled his name,
then let it drip and trill
round the Forest, down his throat,
landlord of the mountain, mafioso
in a tweed vest, red-crested whale
of the sky, he announced
the summer solstice.
And we ran to the window
knowing at last snow would melt
on the Bitterroots to flood our fields,
knowing it was time for the aurora borealis,
heaven's breast, her tentacles
flicking like jellyfish in the shortest
night of the year.
And we did the dance of the woodpecker,
the fat flicker, the pagan priest,
When the clover bloomed, the salsify
and wild roses, and we knew
that winter was over, we did the dance
of the smart, hard-headed, flashy
creatures of the world.
After all, in summer when blood is thick
and dark as the flicker's crest, when we might
all fatten on berries and weeds alone,
isn't there room for each of us,
even the greedy ones? After all,
have you never wanted to drive at top speed,
to slam into a tree or dive from a ledge
or catch fire or slit your wrists
and let the fluids geyser?
Not suicide, but its burning,
not rage directed at humankind--
no, the heart remains
a sweet berry and ripe.
But red drives the stickleback wild,
red small spots among the green, amongst
the brown rocks. And so on the long day
of the summer solstice when the world
spins silly with light, we do the dance
of the woodpecker, twirling our skirts
and mustaches, tapping our resonant
Branches, our underwear
flashing white as we shake
the irregular flags of our body
into undulant, raw flight.