I am not a bird-fancier or follower
(or a twitcher as we call such people
back in England, perhaps you call them that too,
I have no idea, and no idea why),
but I have a woodpecker above me
literally in a tree that hangs above this deck
on the front porch of the wooden blue house
here in the middle of South Austin
which in itself is located in central Texas.
Do you remember those long addresses
boys (and not-boys probably)
would write on the inside cover
of the fly-leaf of hymn books?
Still do perhaps if they can get away with it
although for some reason (here in Texas)
I imagine them more strict in the keeping
of their printed literature.
Great Britain (mostly)
The World (vaguely)
and so on and on
until our astronomic knowledge
had been exhausted.
That’s how I feel now
not the short trousers
and utter fecklessness
(although I still own large portions
of both those items, what with the weather here
and my unreconstructed nature).
I feel small. Beneath this endless pecan tree
and upon it the woodpecker who
as if to order or aware of being observed
(a dead Hollywood star corpsing
for the tour buses)
pecks into a knot
the bottom side of which remains, by me, unseen.
He is rough in his work,
perhaps feeding small ones
(I think this full of warmth,
a father who would do anything also)
or instead gutting some insects
previously left stapled just there
and specifially for this purpose,
for sport or satisfaction.
Which causes me to twitch also:
The gutting and the consideration of our relative size
and continuing irrelevance to everyone, mostly, but us.
The involuntary movement made by the maggot
when considering the inevitable hook.
Childhood, like the avian world,
where the the little acts of brutality
carry on under cover of pretty feathers
a fine red head and a winter coat.
A happy violent place;
above us only sky.