Woodpecker Breakfast


By Mary Beth Norton

Last summer,
Marauding raccoons
Took the suet, the feeder,
And the hook from which they hung
Away to their lair … somewhere.

This summer,
I have thwarted them.
I bought a new hook to hang from the same tree limb.
I bring the new suet feeder in each night
(if I remember).
(The marauders have not yet found it
when I do not.)
And each morning, like today,
The downy woodpeckers await its return
With anticipation.
Before I go back inside
They are there: three or four,
Crawling along the tree
Like giant flying bugs,
Pecking, fighting,
Sometimes even agreeing
To share.

Last week
I saw a downy on each side
And a chickadee hanging from
The bottom.
The downies must have been sibs,
And chickadees are bold;
Otherwise, how could that have happened?
When I leave my summer home,
How long will they hang out,
For their morning breakfast
Before they give up?
‘Tis a long time
Till next June.

Mary Beth Norton, who lives year-round in Ithaca, N.Y., first visited the Island in 1975, and has been a summer resident since 1990.