The sound is as clear as that of a glockenspiel and pierces the air with clarity. But what are we actually hearing? This sound is the sound of something hollow, making a mockery of the substance of both tree and the woodpecker’s head!
I have no answers, but this ungainly yet splendid creature is the symbol of the power of rhythm and discrimination. According to Ted Andrews, in the Native American tradition woodpecker is connected to the heartbeat of the Earth.
This alone qualifies him as being the best inhabitant for the Foundations, not least as I’ve described them in terms of roots rather than stones.
And in a pleasant symmetry, our journey of exploring our foundations started with pecking holes, or creating space. We have explored metaphor, paradox, rhythm and rhyme. Woodpecker drums out our individual rhythms.
As I write, somewhere in Marble Arch are a massive group of rebels, many of whom have been drumming out rhythms for a full week. I salute them and am proud to have shared a few rhymes with them. [You can find a whole SoundCloud channel of my Extinction Rebellion inspired rhyme - waiting to occupy its space in ‘The Rebels Roost’ here in Wild Poplars in due course].
The Woodpecker has one other peculiarity. Have you ever watched woodpeckers fly? They have a completely unique way of dipping up and down. In fact they are masters and mistresses of uncivilised movement! I quote Ted Andrews when he says, ‘When woodpecker comes into your life, it indicates that the foundation is there. It is now safe to follow your own rhythms.’ Extinction Rebellion is testament to doing exactly that.
To sum Woodpecker up in an acrostic, he/she is a:
E mptiness into
And although I seldom share poems on the screen, this one calls to all those who refuse to label themselves in binary terms. I salute ‘they’!
I’m stopped mid-sentence
he’s not just a woodpeck…
yesterday’s sexist pigeon-holing is self-seen
my lawn graced by two in one, both King and Queen!
They’s the brightest scarlet-headed bird
I’ve had the honour to admire
they stokes my poet’s fire
they’s green suited black sword thrusting
wise and wary sovereign
conquering audacity to mark their flight
in waves (that if you watch them closely) write!
They seldom sound their own words
their drumming tells the day
’I’m not like not other birds’
they give the gateposts voice
the tree trunks get to speak
they remind me who I am is
noble and unique.
© Liz Darcy Jones
The Foundations - as fluid and yet strong as they are - are laid. The framework of the doorway rises up from them and the door swings open. I sit on the stone steps looking out onto the Bird Garden, its inhabitants gathering…