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Identity

“Okay but what’s Sami?”

Sometimes I take a breath,

Make myself say the word Lapp—

Then half the time they still don’t know.

I’ve said it for nothing.

Sometimes I find

A way to say, in the far north.

So they understand (but don’t care).

Once I told a small child,

“The reindeer people, sweetheart,”

And I saw in his widening eyes

His sudden, fervent belief

In Arctic shapeshifters.

Yes, that’s us.

The antlers are the hardest to manage

At first, but after two full moons,

Maybe three,

We learn to spring unafraid

Over starlit fields, slip into

Snowy forests,

Browse a neighbor’s garden, then disappear.

For decades my grandmother hid this from me

But now I know

My own velvety snout, my sturdy hooves:

I changed shape in an instant.

 

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Marissa Lingen

Marissa Lingen is among the top science fiction and fantasy writers in the world who were named after fruit. She has many opinions on Moomintrolls. She has been known to cross international borders in search of rare tisanes. Her personal relationships with bodies of water are intense though eccentric. She lives atop the oldest bedrock in the US with her family, where she writes, if not daily, frequently.

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