Tag Archives: pileated woodpecker

30/30 Project: The Poison Control Issue

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woodpecker eating poison ivy

It’s poem #18 in my March Poetry Marathon!  Today the Pileated Woodpecker is back in my neighborhood.  Whenever I hear him, I feel like he is trying to tell me something.  I feel lucky.  I also feel similarly blessed when a cardinal flies in front of me, or I see a hawk several days in a row.  I’ve read that it’s just our human ego acting up when we feel important in the face of animal activity.  I’m also familiar with Native American beliefs about spirit animals and such.  I think I lean toward the latter.  We’re all in this together, the birds and us.  At any rate, my red-headed pal never fails to inspire a poem.  See?  Lucky!

Remember, if you like what you’re reading, be sure to hop (fly?) on over to the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project site and read all of the awesome marathon-poetry being written.  And donate.  Do it!  Please.

Mary Kneels in the Garden

She is prepared for plants out of place,
weeds to follow.
Lady of the Dandelion. Mother of the Lion’s Teeth.

The other women cultivate
neat bushes,
grow showy cacti on their perfect lawns.

To eat what is not meant to be eaten.
To swallow
the hairy stem, the jagged leaf.

Ask the woodpecker why she leaves
her nest,
why she gorges on the ivy. She will tell you

about the beauty of the berry, the joy
of running a tongue
over a living thing, thick and white and round.

Toxicodendron radicans.
Beware
the hairy arms, the hands with narrow fingers,

the fine golden hair. Poison as seasonal,
poison as lover vining your trunk,
creeping toward your throat. Your obituary

a record of children hidden in the heart
in a dying tree,
an urge to devour, a case of mistaken identity.

You will never be the loud bird, the thrumming bird.
Make love to the worms,
the larvae and harmless seeds. From your waste, beauty.

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