Woodpecker Weather

Such weather must be bittersweet,
when orange berries burst through yellow skin
against a cloudless azure,
and tangled vines, thicker than a mother's arms,
embrace shivering birches
disrobed of their last embered leaves
in yesterday's storm.

Weather like this comes past Thanksgiving,
sun still warming the chill air,
as two children reach beyond
my stand on the edge of winter
picking bittersweet above their heads,
swaying like mariners up a ladder
of branches older than both.

Often in this cold, windless weather,
when expectation of rebirth is stilled,
I hear a woodpecker's metallic, unlovely cry
as it flaps and dips to perch,
stiff-tailed, dagger-billed above our triad,
on crossed branches, its red head
burning, older than time.

Judith Werner was a native of New York living in the Bronx when this article appeared. An organic gardener, her winters were spent collecting seeds and poring over January seed catalogs.

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Sojourners Magazine January 1993
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