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Undated Draft of "Dear Elizabeth" believed to be the eighth version of the poem
Yes, I would like a pair of Bica Lacquas-
Is it "beaks of lacquer" or of "sealing wax? -
the words are the same in Portuguese
about 3" long including the tail - with red
bills and narrow bright red masks. The male,
you say, has a sort of drooping mandarin-mustache,
just one black stripe - otherwise they're alike:
otherwise they're exactly alike. "Tiny,
"Tiny but plump, incredibly soft, they shade
from brown to gray on top, to pale beige, then
white, with a rose red spot on the belly...
almost invisible ripples thatalternate lights and
darks, like wet wavelet-marks
on a sand flat when
the tide's out" - the pattern so fine, you tell me,
that one must put on reading glasses to appreciate it
properly. And do they sing? If they do, why I'll
bet their note is so high, and extreme, it's not
something one hears, but must watch the cat's ears
to detect it. "Their nest," you say, "is smaller
than a fist, with a doorway in the side just
enough for both to get into, to sleep. They're , very
delicate..." I understand. Not easy to keep.
Well, never mind. On the back porch, on Perry
St. here, I will build them a little Brazil--
I'will save every shred of New York
sunshine, from June to September, and work
through the winter to weave them a bed-
a double, exactly their size - inside a house with
the right kind of door, in among the Morning
Glories, where the golden-headed
flies,minute as needles' eyes, are plentiful.
"...Although their egg is apt to be barely
as big as a baked bean..." It rarelyhatches
in captivity, you mean. Still, we could hope...
Oh, I can visualize them now, on their perchon my porch - the Bica Lacquas.
front they look like a pair of half-ripe
strawberries." Except for that stripe, as you
say. yes, I'd like them! If you would be
so kind. Especially as, in your P.S. you
confess you already have two unwed female wild
canaries, for which you are trying to find
husbands, so as to havve a little song around there.