Buddy Rich never diddled a drum any quicker
than the beat of the beak of the big Northern Flicker.
Does his brain hurt? Why, no, thanks to pads in his head
as he pounds on an oak tree that’s pretty well dead.
He’s now rattling a tune. It rises then falls.
“We’re making our nest here,” he says with his calls,
then drums for his mate, each roll lasting a second.
Through his pauses, I ponder (my fancy is fecund):
If I had a look so endearing and sweet,
snowy rump and fine black-scalloped plumage, I’d beat
out a ratamacue or a seven-stroke roll
just for joy on the bark of some hollowed-out bole.
Perhaps my great drumming and looks would attract
the attention of someone to love. But, in fact,
I am happy enough merely hearing the talk
of that bird in the woods. Just to listen and walk.