On a mission through the school’s main hall
a casual glance through the glass wall
—fresh mulch, a sea of woody brown
a few dead leaves scattered round
It registers after I pass
something else beyond the glass
something crumpled on the woody bed
a conspicuous spot of red.
I turn around.
A bird, lying on the ground
flat on its back
speckled white and black
white claws curled, scarlet head.
Little woodpecker. Dead.
Flew into the glass wall, it’s clear
from the way it’s lying here.
A broken neck, I think
—but then, then—I see it blink.
What comfort can I give?
Is it even going to live?
I mustn’t touch it, must let it be
I won’t have it die for fear of me.
The hall’s deserted, what to do
people are waiting for me, too
—I’ll hurry. I can never atone
for letting it die alone.
On my hasty return, a wondrous sight
the woodpecker, sitting upright
scarcely moving, still dazed.
I am amazed.
It opens one eye, tests its beak
assessing the damage wreaked
turns that stunning head
of breathtaking red.
I silently celebrate
as I watch and pray and wait
for that one eye remaining shut
to be all right, to open, to see—but
the instant it does, without warning
with a flurry of wings, off in the morning
he goes. I didn’t see him fall
from my side of this glass wall.
I’m just here, rejoicing, for his open eyes
his reclaimed strength, his reclaimed skies.
My heart goes with him, as he flies
—I saw him rise.