I may have found the bird who haunts, but only in the text of a biography. Still I’ve yet to see it. It’s one of Cordelia Stanwood’s thrushes. She referred in her writings to its bell-like peals and wrote of its time abroad, singing in the woods. Her words do evoke a description of my mysterious singer.
Stanwood was a dedicated Maine ornithologist. Her place Birdsacre, in the Town of Ellsworth, centered around a “boiling spring.” In that setting she became peculiar, an odd hermit, studying birds, enduring the constant onslaught of mosquitos, blackflies, and no-see-ums in her solitary quest.
Having returned home from the world, she lived in Maine, the beautiful land, where she became master at bird observation. Holding her open hand on the ground at twilight, she invited young oven-birds to walk up and down its white length, feeding off mosquitoes alighting on her flesh.
The sun beams level through woods and into my upstairs perch here at the screened windows/door. Sky is bright above, the ground dim below. In the gold, more diffuse light between, I see bugs bouncing up and down it—like microbes shooting across a lit slide. Up and down, swarming in golden light as the sun sinks. Leaves and screen filter its light. The beaming ball is clipped, curtailed in the mesh—a cross of light.
From the radio on the bureau comes a buzzing—high pitched like the wheedling of insects coming to me through the screen. Beelzebugs? But, as I attend, it clarifies, saying that unarmed students may have been slaughtered in China during a peaceable demonstration. It says day is now beginning in Beijing and people are coming into the streets to see what will be.
But in Maine the same sun is sinking, our wood growing dull. Light has gone out of them. I can no longer see the bugs bouncing, but I hear them buzzing along the screen. The sky above is dimming as the sun goes. My woods will darken completely. But you, the voice of true praise, still sing; solitary, from the sides of the woods. I will forget you not.
You may read more about our other Maine experiences in the book just out this spring: Maine Metaphor: Maine In Winter.
Copyright 2014 by S. Dorman. Used with permission of Wipf & Stock Publishers.