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Monday, December 3, 2012

Woodpecker

A backyard choked with trees
Half probably dead
The other half top heavy and dying
Waiting for one strong storm to come along
To rip them out of the sandy soil
To which they find themselves clinging

A redheaded man pushes his way through the underbrush
Tripping over small downed trees
Stumbling on rotten fallen limbs and branches
Dead branchy fingers reaching out
Scraping at his black Carhart coat
He angrily snaps them off in his hands

Stopping in front of an ash tree
The redheaded man in the black Carhart coat stares at it
Half of it's bark striped away
Looking like someone went at it with a carrot peeler

He steps up and smacks his head against the tree
Making himself wince with pain
After a pause and shoving his hands into his black coat's pockets
He whacks his redheaded head into it again

This time leaving a small wound on his forehead
A drop of blood slowly trickling down his face
He pauses longer this time

A large redheaded woodpecker alights upon the tree
About ten feet above the redheaded man
Clinging to the bark with taloned feet
The woodpecker ruffles his black body feathers

And asks
"What do you think you are doing?"

The man is startled
And looks up at the large crow sized woodpecker
"Who, me?"
He asks unsteadily

"Yes, you"
The woodpecker answers
"Now, I know why I bang my head against this tree
Peel the bark off of it
And generally make a mess of things"

The woodpecker illustrates his point
By grabbing a strip of bark from the ash tree
Yanking off a one foot section
Revealing some grubs underneath
Moving along shallow grub tracks in the wood

Plucking one out and swallowing it it
He looks at the man again
"It's for these emerald ash borers
They are the tastiest things ever"

The redheaded man in the black Carhart coat backs up a step
As the bird climbs down closer to him
Now at eye level
The bird regards him
"Are you after these bugs?
MY bugs?
Are you, redheaded man thing?"
It cocks it's head waiting for a reply

"N-no, I'm not
I don't want your bugs
I'm sorry
I just.....needed to bang my head against something"
Wiping the blood from his face with one forearm
He takes another step back

The woodpecker levels his red head at the man squarely
"Well, then go back inside man thing
I don't need you out here whacking into my trees
Go on now, GIT!"
With that, the woodpecker spreads his wings
Jumps from the tree towards the man
Who responds by turning and running
Back towards his house
Through the dead branches and downed trees
Falling twice
Rushing back inside the house
Slamming the door

The red headed woodpecker
Turns back to the ash tree
Fluttering back halfway up the trunk
Black body feathers shimmering in the sunlight
Peels back some more bark

And smacks his face against the tree a few times
The sound ringing out in the woods