Poem of the Week | July 18, 2022

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Daybreak” by Mark Smith-Soto.

Costa Rican-American Mark Smith-Soto has authored three prize-winning chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, Our Lives Are Rivers (University Press of Florida, 2003), Any Second Now (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2006) and Time Pieces (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2015). His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Literary Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Rattle, The Sun and many other publications and been nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize. In 2005 it was recognized with an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing. His book of translations Fever Season: Selected Poetry of Ana Istarú (2010) and his lyrical memoir Berkeley Prelude (2013) were both published by Unicorn Press.



The past seeps back at dawn, its recurrence
swells with the smallest losses—oh, you know,
how you won’t again be taken by the hand
to the little parque where long-tailed kites

measured heaven. The half-dream tilt of
the horizon lengthens, the Puntarenas path
lined by palm trees ceding to scrubby pine,
warmth yielding northward to a cramp of ice.

Open your eyes! See? Daybreak fingering
the blinds. Fold night away before death
skirts in, scatters the tiles that pale Zulema
mopped to let the morning see itself, you

a boy at a wide-open window, wrist to temple,
feeling your hope skip under the skin.


Author’s Note

My childhood in Costa Rica is more than a memory, it is a presence that often informs my dreams and my waking life in elusive ways very challenging to capture in words. One of the reasons I write poetry, I guess.