Beholden to no one

by Elouise

Beholden to no one
Proud head held high
He sweeps past
With grace in his wings
Pauses in midair
Before dropping down
For a singular feast
On juicy insects bored
From a rotting tree trunk

My feet rooted to the ground
I watch his great beak extract
Life from dust of the earth
Still calm and confident
he lifts his regal head
Surveys the cemetery
Spreads his sweeping wings
And sails majestically over
White gravestones
Silent in awe of his beauty

Wings flapping slowly
He salutes those who are gone
Then rises into dusky air
Lost in a stand of spruce and beech
Giants welcoming his arrival
With graceful open arms

Seen on a walk with D several evenings ago, just after sunset. The male pileated woodpecker was brilliant in red, black and white, calm and confident. I hadn’t seen one in the park for more than four years. Just one call with its haunting rise and slight fall alerted us. He seemed quite comfortable being the star of his show. As though the king or queen were passing by. Unafraid, self-possessed and gracefully regal.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 May 2017
Photo found at

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