She found the eggshell in the convent garden.
Broken clean in half, its hollowness
was smooth and dry as sand.
No membrane for the nourishment
of embryonic flight:
Only a thin white dust.
On winter nights when it was darkest
they came to me, hungry, wet
feathers with multitudinous voices.
Please was their song and the echo,
picking along the curve of my ear,
fluttering my pages with distraction.
Please. But what they needed or hungered for,
they never said.
Rilke named them best—almost deadly
birds of the soul—but what he missed,
lost in translation or on the hot Trieste wind,
was that their razor feathers were matted
with hunger, their beauty
the pale thin beauty of tubercular saints.
Their voices were blood coughed out on whiteness.
Please. Perched on my shoulder in the dark
like a sourceless anxiety, they moaned,
and shaking the feathers from my hair,
I scattered breadcrumbs.