A hungry woodpecker stops by on his
way to Laramie to feed on the bark
of an old plum tree in my backyard. I
hear the ants he pecks so violently, see
specks of blood on the trail, not the entrails.
He may not have seen me, chosen not to
show me, patio trancing in a chair
without arms, without merit. He is a
rarity born unto northerners, and
I am curious by his subtlety,
like a roadrunner that bludgeons a
cottontail. This desert rage, his incessant
knocking, a palsy with this red-naped
drummer cavorting. If he could see me
hawkeyed, would he play for me? Strum chords
barefoot behind the trellis? Could he pluck this
guise? It confines. Pull the quills from loneliness
and hang me among the convulsing branches.
I keep thinking about that old plum tree,
the one in the rock triangle.
How it stands divided at the root,
even the leaves choose a side.
The leaves on the east side are
deep purple –cream and sugar
peppering my coffee. West
of the hummingbird’s nest, the trunk bares
a Winter’s browning year-round.
This is where sap drips thick—a river
reminding me of the time you planted another tree, the cottonwood,
to obstruct my view of the sun—Imagine,
me and coffee on the back porch,
you jealous of the sky.
Tonya Suther has appeared in The Academy of American Poets, Fleas on the Dog, Zócalo Public Square, and others. Her chapbook is On the Brink (Dancing Girl Press, 2021). Suther holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University.