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Edge of spring

Lulled by light, by the narrowing spires of firs,
the forest is a study in shadow: grays and rusts
and cool charcoals worn smooth with winter.
Soundlessness shapes the scene, until
our voices fall. Unnerved, songbirds
hide – chaffinch and creeper, sparrows –
quiet in the mazework of brambles.
Filling this hollow, an echo like knocking
focuses the mind. A great spotted woodpecker
drums at the rotting trunks of chestnut trees.
You can catch his movement inching along
the fractured canopy's face ... a shudder,
black and white, that troubles the calm.
Now, upside down, almost lost in birches, he shows
that foolish flash of red so like summer berries –
some old delight we left in June toward this
long and weathered chill. He calls, calls,
then flies tree to tree. All day long he will not quiet.