Drought 3840 1945 Cate McGowan

No clouds clasp onto
the hilltops, and the bony
trees drop brown leaves

curled like fists
this summer noonday.
Across the way,

a pileated woodpecker
crawls an oak, plucks
at it from bough

to limb. The bird’s
scarlet head bobs
as it hunts for pesky

nut weevils, flashes
red while preening
the parched tree.

Crimson’s verve
doesn’t substitute
for dowdy camouflage,

but I trust that extravagant
bird’s work as it travels
trees under this deaf sky.

Header photograph © Jason D. Ramsey.

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