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Cynthia Anderson

Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Verse Virtual, Spillway, Crab Creek Review, San Pedro River Review, Mojave River Review, The Coil, and Split Rock Review. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of nine poetry collections and co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.

Pileated Woodpecker

He would come to the clearing
behind the house—an opening
between woods and swamp, thick
with dead leaves and downed trunks.
From a back window I heard him
drum, beak pounding a rhythm
old as conifers, carpenter ants.
I didn’t get any closer, didn’t try—
sightings were rare in the 60s,
everywhere the snarl of chain saws.
He was the most exotic bird I knew—
red-crested, crow-bodied, ignoring
seed at a feeder—though he did
sneak suet from wire mesh nailed
to a pine. He would vanish into
the stand still wild enough to hide
him, and I would watch him go—
hungry for the next glimpse
of a life I couldn’t follow.
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