Lulled by light, by the narrowing spires of firs,
the forest is a study in shadow: grays and rusts
and cool charcoals worn smooth with winter.
Soundlessness shapes the scene, until
our voices fall. Unnerved, songbirds
hide chaffinch and creeper, sparrows
quiet in the mazework of brambles.
Filling this hollow, an echo like knocking
focuses the mind. A great spotted woodpecker
drums at the rotting trunks of chestnut trees.
You can catch his movement inching along
the fractured canopy's face ... a shudder,
black and white, that troubles the calm.
Now, upside down, almost lost in birches, he shows
that foolish flash of red so like summer berries
some old delight we left in June toward this
long and weathered chill. He calls, calls,
then flies tree to tree. All day long he will not quiet.