birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


My cousin Kathleen and I don't look alike—she resembles her mother, who is not a Janick, and I look like my father's mother, who was not a Janick either. But Kathleen and I have the exact same hands. I often refer to them as "Polish potato-digging hands," although I have no real idea how our ancestors achieved their livelihoods. These hands just somehow seem agricultural to me, capable and powerful, but not beautiful—made for kneading bread, or scything hay, or wringing the necks of chickens.

The minor knuckles, midfinger, swell out thickly, with deep wrinkles on top. If I want to wear a ring, I need a big, heavy one, scaled way up to make any sense at all on these hands. The major knuckles are pretty prominent also, with a texture reminiscent of elephants' knees. My best friend from childhood, Tory, has long, slender fingers that taper smoothly to a rounded tip. She plays the piano and her fingers arch elegantly, lightly over the keys. I'm not sure what transformation I thought could happen through my hand-envy; even if I could swap out my inheritance hands for some small, pretty, line-in-a-sonnet hands, they would look ridiculous attached to the rest of my body, which is also capable rather than beautiful. I'm not sure why I envied the tiny twists of gold wire and chips of stone my friend could wear as rings, why such things seemed more girlish and more desirable than anything that would fit over my knobby knuckle. It would be a thrill, a thrill I don't expect to ever have, to one day see a man's love poem to his beloved's enormous hands, to everything they can do instead of how delicate they are.

Smoky Jacuzzi

Anything You Can Do I Can Do