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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 11, Number 3, September 2017
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Bill Gottlieb
Loch Lomond, California, U.S.A.


Watchful

I spotted a Pileated Woodpecker yesterday, two weeks since spring’s fresh start, twenty years since my last sighting, when my wife was alive, and many vanished friends. It paused on an oak in the field beyond our fence—I’ve paired again in the gaining world—paused long enough for me to notice, to feel the stab of enchantment, the rouse and sear of the rare, the strong, strange assertion of a free and fraught identity, and then it flew. Its kin, of course, are the Acorn Woodpeckers that throng our acres like playthings, patched in black and red and white, snappy and stark, their call a kind of cranky hacking, protest and tout. The Pileated is like-pied but larger—considerable as a crow. Its beak can break a little tree. Its span is staunch and launching, like a prayer. In a blink I am in love again; in a blink love decamps to hiddens of shade; and then, deliberately, from the twists and sprigs of memory, I build this interlude for our hearts. The two jays that jaunt our yard are building their nest next to the house. And yesterday also a raven landed grandly—black-eyed, wise with sky—maybe to lunge and glug their eggs. Jacked, the jays razed it off. I was sorry to see our houseguest go away hungry, relieved the fractures of grief were postponed, that the secret clutch of creation, azure and speckled, for the moment survived.

a cat heeds
a chickadee
cry away

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