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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


We went to a movie, one afternoon, just Jim and me. I have no idea what it was – maybe a Muppet movie, maybe something else. It was winter of 1998. We came out of the movie and blinked at the sunlight. Then I remembered.

I had a Hickman catheter in my upper right chest. I was a patient at the Hutch in Seattle who’d had a bone marrow transplant for chronic myelogenous leukemia six months earlier. I’d gotten through the very worst of it, I hoped, but still weighed less than 100 pounds, still had great trouble eating despite the prednisone, still had to go to the hospital for transfusions every few weeks, still was on a litany of medicines. Some of it I took as pills, some as infusions in my IV line. I’d survived a couple of minor bouts of shingles, and at least one cold, and frequent nausea. I didn’t have any hair – hadn’t had since mid-September, and wore a black beret instead of those awful turbans. Jim had shaved his head in camaraderie. He looked a whole lot better than I did. The girls wore black berets when we went out – the three of us looked cute.

We’d sat at the back of the theater in an isolated spot. I wasn’t supposed to be there. One of the things about being a transplant patient was that I was walking around in jail. I wasn’t supposed to be anyplace with crowds of people – not church, not theaters, not crowded stores or malls or restaurants. I wasn’t supposed to walk past construction sites or open ground (fungus spores from the stirred-up dirt), have anything to do with the pets, have fresh flowers, eat anything raw or purchased in a bulk food section. 

I forgot all of that while I was in the movie. When I remembered, standing in the chilly March Seattle sunshine, I felt alive, refreshed, happy, thankful for the reprieve, and amazed that an hour and a half in a dark room with a bunch of people on a screen could be so life-giving.

petals forgotten
questioning this last saki
to honor the moon


Whack on the Head