Dear Officer,
I apologize.
I know I was going slow.
I was stunned
by the morning sun
shining a perfect spotlight
on the small maple
in the clearing,
so proud in her
new red dress.
Then I caught a glimpse
of the red cap
on a woodpecker’s head
as he flew by
on undulating waves.
I followed his path
to the fallen pine
along the stream.
I’m sorry.
I didn’t mean
to cause an accident.
I just wanted to slow down
enough to see.
I know you’re in a hurry
to check my registration and insurance,
but now that you’re here,
if you look over there,
along that first thick branch
of the accommodating oak
you can see the woodpecker
listening for larvae
under the bark.


No, I didn’t really get a ticket. But I imagine I will.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

© Elizabeth Steinglass, 2013, all rights reserved.

15 replies
  1. joyacey
    joyacey says:

    I love that “listening for larvae under the bark.” Obviously we all need to take the time to notice and listen–like you did. thank you for sharing your craft with us.

  2. Julie Larios
    Julie Larios says:

    Every time I’m driving and I see Mt. Rainier on the horizon, I just about crash, it’s so breath-taking. And a woodpecker is smaller but equally beautiful. Maybe you’ll be lucky and get a policeman that’s a poet at heart? Thanks for posting this, Liz. (I agree about the “listening for larvae under the bark” line. That’s beautiful.)

  3. poetryadvocates
    poetryadvocates says:

    I love the forthrightness of this, Liz. How the second line is a two-word sentence that catches us off guard. The title “Apology” lessens this effect a little. Maybe an alternative — “An Exchange” perhaps?

    I love how the poem builds carefully to the charged sounds of “first thick branch” and “the accommodating oak” and “listening for larvae / under the bark.” The k sounds are well-placed.

    I wonder if “as he flew by / on undulating waves” might become “as he undulated by” since woodpeckers fly and waves undulate, but a bird undulating gives us something new and more precise.

    Nicely done nonetheless!

    Steven Withrow

  4. lsteinglass
    lsteinglass says:

    Good idea! Though often I’m driving through the park here and there is no room to pull over. I think I need to walk more!

  5. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    Great poem, Liz, that we poets can relate to. I wonder if our insurance rates should be higher. LOL. I love that the narrator invites the police officer to look too…”but now that you’re here, if you look over there…” Love it! And Happy Thanksgiving! =)


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