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To Do

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You’ve planted and weeded and wheelbarrowed,
           now tapping a pencil, trying to remember
the next thing—what was it?—when a shape
           drops from the sky, shudders and stops
at a tree—red blotch—whack, whack.
           A creature big enough on this slow spring day
to make you mutter, Ho-
           meric, exactly like the popeyed codger
in the John Wayne flick when he sees
           how the bride and groom have broken
their bed. A big, wild woodpecker. Imagine
           how it would feel to glimpse, like this,
an ivory-billed, that one they say
           (if that’s what they saw) is the last,
epic of the land, boomerang to be
           and not. But could it be
this one will make it for real?
           Make it beyond lit screens,
this pileated inkling now hopping into brisk beats
           of loopy flight. And now almost
in your grasp, the day’s next thing,
           when a rattled, rising shriek riddles the air.
Again. And again you’re just beginning:
           a nest of electric light, a boy
waiting for the bus and laughing
           at the cartoon bird laughing like crazy.
Source: Poetry (July/August 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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