Woodpecker is rubber-necked

We have a bird box in the garden which has proved pretty useless at attracting birds, except for one – a great spotted woodpecker which came last Spring and used the box to drum out its combined territory and mating call; we have seen and heard it again, and welcomed it as a sure sign of sap rising and growth returning.  This is Ted Hughes, from his 1981 collection, Under the North Star.

Woodpecker is rubber-necked
But has a nose of steel.
He bangs his head against the wall
And cannot even feel.

When Woodpecker’s jack-hammer head
Starts up its dreadful din
Knocking the dead bough double dead
How do his eyes stay in?

Pity the poor dead oak that cries
In terrors and in pains.
But pity more Woodpecker’s eyes
And bouncing rubber brains.

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