Marjolin et Cadine
But they always had a special place in their hearts for the big basket of feathers. They returned there for nights of love. The feathers were completely unsorted. There were long black turkey feathers and goose plumes, white and slick, which tickled their ears when they turned over. They sank into duck down as though it were cotton wool. There were light hen feathers, golden and speckled, which rose in a cloud with each breath they exhaled looking like a jumble of flies in the sunlight. In the winter they also slept in the purple of pheasants, the ashen gray of larks, in the silky plumage of grouse, quail, and thrushes.
The feathers seemed to still be alive, warm with their scent, and they brushed the children’s lips with the quiver of wings and the warmth of a nest. To them, the feathers felt like the great broad back of an enormous bird on which they rested, which swept them away as they swooned in each other’s arms.
In the morning, Marjolin looked for Cadine, lost at the bottom of the basket, as though buried in new-fallen snow. Disheveled, she climbed up, shook herself, emerging from a cloud. A few feathers always stuck to her bun.
The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola