Friday, June 18, 2021

Poetry Friday: Hispaniolan Woodpecker


Photo Credit: Gil Ewing,

I remember
the first time I saw
a Hispaniolan Woodpecker
in my yard:

the powerful beak
the yellow cartoon character eye
the black and yellow basketwork of the back
the bright red head.

It was the first time I knew
there was such a bird.
I imagined it rare,
perhaps unique,
an anomaly
about to burst,
into flame.

I hear them every day
and often see them.
(Once, four on the same branch.)
Not a surprising bird,
but one of the most common.

And yet perhaps that gasp
from the first time,
that leap of my heart,
was the most appropriate response,
after all.


Buffy has the roundup today at


Denise Krebs said...

Oh, that poem! There is so much beauty and truth in it. Some of my favorite loves, which make me reread and absorb the photo more:

"yellow cartoon character eye"
"black and yellow basketwork of the back"
"about to burst, / phoenix-like, / into flame."

And then the cement, the gasp and leap of your heart as "the most appropriate response,
after all" is so grounding and beautiful. Well done!

Linda Mitchell said...

Wonderful imagery in this, Ruth....the cartoon yellow eye, the right red head, the basket work. Beautiful. I felt like I went on a tiny fieldtrip.

Janice Scully said...

Breathtaking poem, photo and bird. It's so interesting that what you thought was so uncommon now appears four on a branch! I'd love to see one of these. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love this poem!

jama said...

Wow, beautiful bird. It does have all the markings of being rare. Love how your poem captured that gasp of wonder at first seeing it. :)

Linda B said...

It's your bird philosophy shared with us, Ruth. What a gorgeous bird that makes me see how lucky you are to see it often, yet I love seeing my sparrows often, too, as you wrote, the 'gasp' of wonder like the first time. Lovely!

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, your bird is an unusual sight to me, so regal in stance. You described it so well. I admire the descriptive words you chose just like everyone else says. You are quite the birder. Is there such a word?

Ruth said...

Carol, yes, that's the preferred word among birders! :-)

Buffy Silverman said...

Love the final line of your poem--I would gasp too. Your Hispanolian woodpecker reminds me a bit of the Red-bellied woodpeckers that frequent our yard, only not such a powerful beak!

Mary Lee said...

This is my experience when I saw a goldfinch for the first time!! Sadly, they are becoming rare now.

Great poem. Thanks for the picture. I love the "black and yellow basketwork of the back"

Jone said...

I love when birds make us gasp. Such simple delights. And the 'the powerful beak' reminds me of our flickers in the PNW.
Well done.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

"I imagined it rare,
perhaps unique,
an anomaly
about to burst,
into flame."
Every day miracles--bring 'em on.

michelle kogan said...

It reminds me too of the Phoenix, and you've captured it well in description. Four on a branch—that would still amaze me, thanks for sharing this beautiful gasp of feathered wonder!

Elisabeth said...

Oh Ruth that last stanza - just perfect!

I saw my very first woodpecker recently. I've often heard them, but never spotted one before. To see 4 on a branch? Wow!

I also saw a woodpecker larder tree recently too - I'm still tickled about that every time I think about it.

This is a lovely poem - thank you for sharing it!

Bridget Magee said...

I love it when you 'wing it' with your poems, Ruth! Keep the wonder coming! :)

author amok said...

The last stanza of this poem is so beautiful, Ruth -- a call to remain in the state of wonder! "Basketweave" is a fantastic descriptor. (Funny -- our local woodpeckers also have red on the crown of their heads.)