The old barn in the woods stands silent as I walk
through quiet trails, my footsteps softened by forest duff,
leaf litter and pine needles
wet from the winter’s snowmelt.
I hear the cry of a Pileated Woodpecker,
its voice mocking me with laughter as I try to find the bird
but all I see are feeding holes in pines
and woodchips on the ground beneath the tree.
And then another voice pierces the cool gray sky
a scream above the forest
as the Red-shouldered Hawk flies by,
over and over again it circles and cries
then lands in a tall pine and,
looking back over rust colored shoulders,
fixes me with its eye
and I retreat
deeper into the forest.
Wandering down a hill
it is hard to soften my footsteps now,
as twigs snap and crunch beneath my shoes
I feel clumsy and awkward and wonder
if I had moccasins and walked on tip toe, would I be silent then?
would I be able to become part of the forest
and blend in?
I find evidence of another mammal—deer scat in the duff,
but this quiet creature slipped away on delicate hooves
long before I found this
I have come down here to this quiet pool, a puddle really of melted snow,
a vernal pool perhaps?
It is still too cold and early for salamanders and frogs,
but not for owls! Though it is the middle of the day
I hear its call,
“Who cooks for you?” the Barred owl cries!
I scan the tall pines over my head
I look for this bird among the branches and needles,
thick and green
but I do not find this elusive bird
and now its voice is silent.
Nearby the moss grows thick and green on a coffee brown stump,
while titmice and chickadees call from the woodland,
and trees still waiting for the warmth of spring to swell the buds,
and spread their leaves,
like me they wait
to welcome the warblers.