Out at first light. Venus is visible through the thin fog, slowly fading until I lose it in the already-bare branches of a walnut tree.
At dawn, that bright smudge in the clouds must be Venus, just above the trees. From the far end of the field, a single hoot: barred owl.
Out before dawn, I watch Venus rising through the trees, bright as a searchlight. The distant gargle of jake brakes from the interstate.
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.
Venus and the fourth-quarter moon stand close together, shining through the treetops as I drink my coffee.