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July 2017, vol 13 no 2

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Janet Lynn Davis

Singing Pines


In the center of the quiet road, a small tangle of thin cable, barely visible against the tarry surface. I determine that it's a pair of earbuds, one badly cracked, partially flattened. Who would have worn these? Who would have needed them when the sounds of nature – these woods, this sky – are all around? I resume my brisk pace, dismissing my own questions.

Moments later, the world opens up, flings itself at me with whistles, warbles, caws, chatter. With flapping sounds, scampers, whish-whooshes, crackles, and thuds, from the forest floor to the tops of the tallest pines. Everything amplified. I find music even in the human-made: distant buzzes and hums of lawn equipment, the repetitive clanking of construction a mile or so away. From then on, each time I walk along that stretch of road, the same magic, the same amplification. Days pass, weeks pass; remarkably, the earbuds stray only a foot or two from their original location.

the rattle
of threadbare branches
evolves
into an aria
of unfurling leaves

as if someone
suddenly cranked up
the bass . . .
from a pond's reedy edge
the breeding calls of bullfrogs

My husband joins me on today's walk. This time, when I see the little puddle of cable, I make an impromptu decision – to gently kick it off to the edge of the asphalt, out of the way. I notice that the damaged bud is finally missing altogether. But as we pass by again, on our second lap, I recall that a crew will soon be out to mow down the tall, wild grasses. I kick the former listening device back, ever so slightly, into the road. My husband appears baffled by my behavior, why I would want to protect such a battered, useless thing. He doesn't seem to realize that, when it comes to certain matters of importance, I need reminders.


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