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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I had just come home from Alabama to California where I live this two-state life that we never planned, but now we're in it. We have an ancient cat in California. Daisy.
Daisy loves my husband. She doesn't love it when I come home from Alabama, but we have a kind of truce. Once I was skyping with my husband, but he left the room to answer the door and didn't come back. After a few minutes, I was skyping only with Daisy who stared at the screen, indifferent.
We inherited Daisy when Lucy, our middle child, was 15. The twins' mother was dying, and the ex would not let the twins keep their animals. How was this possible? I remember Lucy crying - please please please, we must keep Daisy. Please. So we got Daisy. We've had Daisy almost 12 years. Lucy will be 27 in a month.
Anyway, Daisy isn't my favorite, but she's a sweet old lady. Sweet is pushing it. But last June when I got home, I was standing with Daisy on the front porch on Cerro Gordo Street, a street which means, Fat Hill, and I was looking at the palm trees scraping the sky. I was thinking how we did not have palm trees in Birmingham, but oak, maple, and loblolly. And as I was standing there with Daisy, a hawk, a red-tailed hawk, flew at her.
It happened so fast. A rush of wings - a shadowy flutter from the sky. Daisy! Daisy! I screamed at her - RUN! RUN! It swooped down, this hawk, and Daisy, old Daisy, dashed to the backyard in a flash. And so the hawk swung back up to its perch in the palm tree.
I wanted to say someone - did you see that? Did you see that? But I was alone and Daisy had made her escape. Daisy lived and lives another day.
I told people that a hawk flew down to grab Daisy, but did not succeed. I kept hearing the wings - I heard them before I saw them.
After the twins' mom, Crystal, died, once in a while the twins, Toni and Christine, would come over to see Daisy. Daisy! Daisy! How could their father not let them keep their cat? How could their mother die when they were only 15?
Daisy is old now. She used to have a belly that swung side to side as she walked. Now her sharp bones pierce her fur.
But she didn't mess around with that hawk. Daisy knew.
Once when we all lived in the same house and our kids were still kids, we had two dogs, two cats, and three finches. Now we have a cat in California and a dog in Alabama, who flies back and forth as a kind of comfort animal carry-on. But there is also a hawk who sits in a palm tree on a fat hill in Echo Park watching everything.


Do swans count?