Washington University Libraries Home
Final Versions Home
"Dear Elizabeth"draft dated February 26, 1964
Yes, I'd would like a pair of
Bicos de Lacre--
Is it"Beaks of lacquer?
" Or of "sealing wax?"
The words are the same in Portuguese --
"About three inches long, including the tail--
with red bills and narrow bright red masks.
The male has a sort of drooping mandarin-mustache--
one black stripe..."
Otherwise, you say, the sexes are alike, you say
and "Tiny but plump,
" you say, "shading from brown to gray on top,
to pale beige, then white with a rose red spot
on the belly, --
their with The feathers, you
write tell me are
are incredibly soft,
"alternating lights and darks,
like nearly invisible wave-marks
on a sand flat when the tide's out -- "
thand with a the
pattern so fineone you must wear
put on reading glasses
to appreciate it properly."
Well, do they sing? If so, I expect
their note is extreme. Not something one hears,
but must watch the cat's ears to detect...
You mention their nexst that's "smaller than a fist,
with a doorway in the side just wide enough
for both to get into, to sleep."
They must be very delicate, I'll bet--
they're not easy to keep. Still,
on the back porch on Perry Street, here,
I would build them a little Brazil.
I'd save every shred, and
every splinter of New York
and work through the winter to weave
them a bed--
a double, exactly their size,
with beneath a roof of thatch--
making sure to leave a little oval hatchway
making sure to leave a little oval
in the side--and set it in among the morning glories
where the gold-headed flies,small as needles' eyes are
and are plentiful.
"Although their egg is apt to be barely as big
as a baked bean." It rarely hatches in captivity,
you mean. But then, yet,
who knows, it might!
I can see them as I write--
the Bicos de Lacre--on their perch on my porch.
"From the front they look like a pair of half-ripe
streawberries." Yes, except for that
Yes, Elizabeth I'd like them!!
if you would be so kind. Especially as in your P.S.
you confess you "already have two unwed female
in order to have a little song around there.