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Shades of Dawn

ISSUE:  Winter 2000
What would you call this,
after the sky has huddled
around a half-sun on the horizon?

Aurora,maybe? The one that silvers
wet sand like the inside
of a shell, as the ocean

scoops out uncolored spaces
at dawn’s low tide? Or madrugada?
If the dawn is very close

to the soul, worshippers
kneeling at the water’s edge
waiting for God to rise in the mist,

is that alba? Once the sun
pinks the water, what if the day begins
to open—the space

between dawn and day,
when everyone is still
sleepwalking, when the houses have softened

their edges in morning’s blur?
If a man is floating
in a bed of waves, toes pointing up,

hands folded-—has he achieved amanecer?
Federico, how can I write
when dawn can never end

with a vowel and every daybreak
echoes a faint prayer?


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