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One of two drafts of "Dear Elizabeth" dated September 21, 1964

EBS letter of August 27 — 1963
9-21-64
Yes, I would like a pair of Bicos de Lacre.
Is it beaks of laquer 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
with a sort of drooping mandarin-mustache,
one black stripe..." Otherwise the sexes

are alike, you say: "Plump but tiny,
shading from brown to gray on top,
to pale beige, then white, with a rose red spot
on the belly. Their feathers, you tell me,
are incredibly soft, alternating lights and darks
like nearly invisible wave-marks on a sand-flat
when the tide's out." And with a pattern

so fine, you "must 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 nest 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. Not easy to keep. Still,
on the back porch on Perry Street here,
I could wouldbuild them a little Brazil.
I''d save every shred and splinter of New York
sunshine, and work through the winter

to weave them a bed—a double exactly their size,
with a roof of thatch–making sure to leave
a little oval hatchway in the side—
and set it in among the morning glories
where the gold–headed flies, small as needles' eyes, are plentiful."Although their egg is apt to be barely

as big as a baked bean," as you say.
It rarely hatches in captivity, you mean.
But who knows? I would hope Today again you write but here it might!
the Bicos de Lacre, on their perch on my porch.
"From the front they look like a pair
of half-ripe strawberries," you told tell me

Yes, except for that stripe.
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 strawberries," you told tell me
Yes, except for that stripe.
Yes, dear Elizabeth, I'd like them!
If you would be so kind. Especially as
have two unwed female wild canaries
for which you must find husbands"