First Light

first light photo

Image by Marco

We went to sleep with the roosters tied
to small wicker chairs with sisal string.
Yet the dead silence of the night came
and stayed as the dead should.

5:45 am, the sun shimmered behind
curtains of clouds and announced dawn.
The roosters flapped their wings, shook off
their own sleep as if dispensing of coats.

First light, the propeller sound of wings,
heat rising as the dark gave way
to the reign of Aurora and that orchestra
of thin feathered throats began to sing.

Cuckoo doodle doo, cuckoo doodle doo
echoed against the cement walls as if a mariachi
band of drunk trumpeters got stuck looping
the same notes on ungreased valves.

Notes fell, flew, grew, broke the silence of sleep
until death-like rest departed, and the heat
penetrated without mercy, a light that burned
until nocturne returned, draped like an exhausted bandit.


Patrick Sylvain is a poet, social critic, and photographer. He was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been published in journals such as African American Review, Agni, American Poetry Review, Aperture, Callaloo, Caribbean Writers, Transition, Ploughshares, SX Salon, and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse.

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