The Threatened Swan, oil painting by Dutch Golden Age Painter Jan Asselijn

Showcase Object & Idea

Lost Animal Identities

I’ve been reading the Showcase Object & Idea newsletter on Substack for a while because I love their format. The editors select two authors per month, one prose writer and one poet, and publish their objects (texts or poems) along with their ideas (how the chosen objects were created).

Last month, they selected “Lost Animal Identities,” a short piece of mine I had difficulty labeling. Does magical nonfiction exist?

Thank you, Carol Gardner, John Gosslee, and Andrew Ibis, for publishing my work and bringing this story to your readers.

An excerpt:

The first time I turned, I was seven years old. I sat on a hard mattress in my grandmother’s guest bedroom on the second floor with a man I truly liked, the clean-faced husband of my grandmother’s sister. The man and I were in the habit of making excursions together on his bicycle. Together, we dove into the village swimming pool or watched swans flap their threatening wings when we came too close. That afternoon, however, while my grandmother and his wife were downstairs, chatting in the quarreling manner that was their style, the man and I were alone in the bedroom for a reason I cannot recall. He touched me or held me or handled me for another reason I cannot recall, but what I do remember is that I turned, from an obedient child into a sly fox. My fur was a gorgeous bristly red and made him gasp. In his confusion, I squirmed from his hands with one smooth lie—I’m hungry—and fled the room. The metamorphosis didn’t last long, my fur gone before I reached my grandmother, but the fox’s trace in me forbade me for evermore to sit on the rear end of the man’s bicycle.

For the full story, head over to Showcase’s Substack newsletter. Thanks for reading!

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Would you like to read more? Here’s a selection of my published fiction and nonfiction online.