Before dawn, nothing but wind and trains. In the crown of a birch, Venus burns so fiercely, even the fast-moving clouds can’t extinguish it.

A catbird mimics the wood thrush, call-and-response style, getting the phrasing right but little else. Venus fades into the dawn sky.

Up before dawn, I watch the morning star climbing through the treetops. The birds awake: fragments of song like an orchestra tuning up.

At first light, few other sounds than the fluting of doves’ wings. I hold my head perfectly still to watch Venus moving through the trees.

An hour before dawn, I sit motionless, watching Venus climb slowly through the leaves of an oak, dazzling first my right eye, then my left.