"I love the birds and the song of birds," said Sister Blaise. "I hear the voice of my bridegroom when they sing; in the flapping of their wings; when they peck at my hands I feel his presence. The cloister garth's flowers have his scent about them; the breeze speaks to me of him, how unworthy I am to be his bride. Sister Agnes peers at me from her window; I pretend not to see or to know. Her eyes are always upon me; she seeks me out like one wanting company. In the cloister at night after Compline, she wanders in my shadow as I make my way to my cell for prayer and sleep. I am the unworthy bride; I chastise my flesh for my ways and sins. My sister, Charlotte bathes in her sins like one preparing for a party and as a child she would pull wings off butterflies; throw frogs in the air awaiting them to fly. She says I am wasting my life on a crucified lie; that my womb will stink of death. I touch the feet of my bridegroom's mother; she smiles at my words and simple gaze. My mother spoke of my bridegroom with jealousy; her words echo in my mind across the years. Unworthy to be his, she said, unworthy to be at his side, she muttered, as I knelt in prayer or rubbed my beads. I love the dawn; the light that comes like my bridegroom to wake me from slumber. He is handsome; my heart leaps when he takes my hand and leads me to my work and prayer. At night, I embrace him; listen to his words in the wind that rattles my window. David embraced me once; kissed me on our way home from the cinema. He spoke of marriage; the outpouring of children; the ways of the flesh. His hand was upon me; his lips brushed against mine. Now he has married another; she is barren as an empty barrel; freezes when he touches her with his pinkie pores. The bell rings for Lauds. My bridegroom waits for my voice and praise; he sits in his chamber for my attendance and words to flow over him like water. Sister Elizabeth walks with her eyes lowered; her hands are joined in her secret prayer; she knows my bridegroom like my matron-of-honour; she kisses my cheek in the dreams of her night. In the refectory she stares at me from across the room; her hands held in front gesturing words. My bridegroom awaits; his attendants prepare his robes of white and red; his bride enters his chamber with a smile and her love. I want him to come to me, his hand to touch my brow and embrace my flesh. The perfume of his incense enfolds me; his voice speaks of my secret love; my heart leaps when he touches my tongue. I sing to him; wrap my words to the music of voices; kneel before him like one making love in the raptures of feelings, prayers and the morning's cold kiss. I have come, my love, I am here for your blessing and kisses.