Before the Blue Sky

Before you see
the blue of the sky
you see the trees
and the hills.

This is rugged terrain

old mountains
worn down to hills
land worked too hard
old people as hard as the earth
beauty mangled by life

Near the edge of my wood
There’s a hollow
carved out
in this old,
dead, birch tree.
A wood pecker worked
several summers
studiously, slowly,
crafting that hole.

He use to irritate me
with his constant knocking
hammering away

… eventually
I grew to enjoy the
hammering sounds
in the morning.
Tried not to scare
him away
My foot steps
like pillows.
Just listened
and observed.
by the constant sound
of work in the fields.

The wood pecker stopped
several years ago.
I miss the distant sound
of his work
The reminder of his life,
his usefulness.
The reassuring rat-a-tat-tat.

Mornings became more quiet.
No hammering sounds
No work in the fields.

He did not return…
My red-headed friend…


This spring,
A family of cardinals
made their nest
in that hollow
…in that Old Birch
I saw the mama bird go
and out
for weeks
Papa bird was bright red
and fierce
They brought supplies
and food
built their nest
upon the scraps
in my yard.
They built
their home,

Then the storm came
That summer
The winds where high
It took down power lines
and trees
No phone
No television
No internet
Just a propane grill
and camp fire coffee
for me

Nevertheless, I persisted

like generations before
I dug my heals in and
… weathered the storm

We are proud people

When the clouds cleared
after the storm
Mama bird peeped out
happy for day
Papa bird flew by …
A blur of bright red
Like a victory ribbon

…before the blue sky.

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