In the hours before sunrise, the city is still, suspended in
time between night and morning.
The fading moonlight casts a grey light over empty streets
where the shards of broken bottles lie like fallen stars.
The street stretches out between towering facades, whose
darkened windows watch the world, like shiny black eyes.
Discarded chip packets lie listlessly in gutters where spongy
moss creeps into the crevices.
From the south of the city, the stink of factories wafts
through the still air, and mingles with the stench of
The street lights flicker uncertainly, casting a pallid glow
on the tarseal.
The feeble light trips over cracks and crevices, casting as
many shadows as it banishes.
In the corner huddles an empty hood with its wide, staring
eyes, oblivious to the rhythmic drip of water which echoes in
the empty cavern of the street and forms a puddle at its
In the hours before sunrise, the writer sits in the empty
attic, head resting on ink-stained hands.
The overflowing bin spews its contents on to the floor beside
The teachers, accountants and bankers lie askew in beds and
dream of chasing, and of falling.
The teenage insomniac peruses the cracked-paint ceiling of
her lonely room and despairs, not of death, but of life.
No-one hears the mewing of a forgotten cat as it echoes into
In the empty hours before sunrise, there is nothing to do but
wait until morning.
Then, in one moment, a tiny sliver of light peeks over the
horizon, and the world begins to move again.
The first rays of sunlight reach down and leak colour back
into the city, brushing the sky with pale pastel colours.
Rose-pink clouds form graceful pirouettes against a turquoise
The sun alights gently on orange roofs and climbs into the
cracks, revealing small green fronds, uncurling in the new
The street lights flicker out and there is a low rumble as
the morning travellers begin their journeys.
First a lone bicycle whizzes by, red tail-light still
flashing as the sun creeps ever quicker over the horizon,
then the grumble of cars and the street fades into the
background, merely a solid tapestry for the busy drivers.
Recognition creeps back into the eyes of the huddled figure
in the corner.
He picks himself up, revealing shaggy, unkempt hair peeking
out under a worn jacket, and shuffles off, the backs of his
trousers scuffing the footpath.
A fresh morning wind picks up the chip packets and dances
away with them, taking the stench of the night with it.
As the morning rays reach past her faded curtains, the writer
lifts her head, and goes to wash her hands.
The doctors, lawyers and hairdressers wipe the sleep from
their eyes, smell the coffee and forget the troubled dreams
of the night before.
Weary feet of yesterday step fresh upon today's ground.
Even the teenage insomniac sees the sun through cloudy
windows and remembers the way the sun floats on the ocean
waves in the morning, and the taste of salt which sticks to
The cat forgets his desperate plight and instead, hungrily
eyes the blackbird on the power line as it watches the city
awake, and forgets the black hours before the sunrise.
• By Britta Hamill, Year
12, Bayfield High School