It’s 2 a.m. and the wind is raising a ruckus, and the moon and stars are flickering behind fast-scudding clouds like a 1920s silent film. The clouds are flying east, over the ridge. Note to self: Hiroshima is not good bedtime reading for a solid night of sleep. Its calm, unadorned style, its attention to quotidian detail, its matter-of-fact tone remove the distance between me and the four men and two women around whom the story revolves to connect us deeply to the enormity and horror of the event. The men, professionals, two doctors and two “men of the cloth, are a bit removed, but the women are so like “us,” a young office clerk, a widowed mother of three youngsters eking out a living with piece work. I hear their voices in my head.
The downy woodpecker atop the pine
Bobbed and bowed in obsequious courtesy
To the slow-rising sun
Sifting color lightly onto the forest
Bluing the sky behind orange taffeta clouds.
Crenulated branches bounce and dance
As the air stirs the languid brightening of day.
The sun had come out beneath a few remaining fluffs of clouds by the time I rose late after middle-of-the-night reading and writing. The feeders are aswarm with tiny warblers, chickadees, nuthatches and wrens. Their flitting color and chipping replace the thundering darkness of rain on the roof for the past week. The downy woodpecker sits silhouetted beside a large pine cone as he ducks and bobs atop the long-needled pine at the edge of the clearing. After nearly fifteen minutes he lifts without stirring the branch and I realize that the cone is another smaller bird. Without binoculars, I cannot make out its type, but I wonder at the miracle of their silent companionship in the vast open forest.
Jan. 22, 2011