The Selkie’s Skin

The Selkie has been keening,

Hunting for her skin.

She searches, barefoot, along the shore,

And calls to her drowned and happy kin.


She wades through thickest water

That once would let her in.

But the Selkie can do nothing

Without her shining skin.


Over rock and bracken

With bleeding, broken feet she walks,

Until she finds a house of stone

Growing from the yellow gorse.


There is something in the dappled stone,

Washed day and night by fresh, moor wind,

That reminds her of her Atlantic home

And the cool embrace of her Selkie skin.


The door is open, a fire burns,

Inside the air is stormy with smoke.

A sudden silk against her cheek:

She looks up. The Selkie chokes.


Scarred and bound, with dried kelp eyes:

A dozen seal pelts are hung,

Sacks of heavy salt and skin,

But as the Selkie turns to run…


A face of reddest, richest earth,

That the Selkie knows and the Selkie loves,

And smooth, hard hands with pebbled callouses clutch


Her precious Selkie skin.


“My love, I never meant to hurt you,

Only hold you on the Land.

The water keeps you from me,

Am I not a deserving man?”


The Selkie does not speak, but leaps,

Arms outstretched for her cape of grey.

The skin is hurled, an oyster pearl,

Cold and shining into the flames.


After it, the Selkie flies,

Waves of fire rush over her head.

White horses snort with sweat and steam,

Hot coals upon the seabed.


When the wind has cleansed the room,

The beloved one weeps.

For all that is left of his Selkie wife

Is the hissing sound of the sea.


The Man of the Land has been keening,

Atoning for his sin.

He searches, barefoot, along the shore,

And calls to his drowned and happy kin.





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