water-dress

Modern Mythology

Selkie (Irish) Seal-maiden

Each night she sings the lullaby of her sisters, to put her earth husband to sleep. She tiptoes from the lighthouse, feet bare and sand-stained, minding her step as she moves from rock to rock along the shore, until she’s reached the waterline. 

She takes off her clothes one by one and folds them neatly on the stone, before diving out into the ocean.

It’s not the same, in this new skin. She feels awkward and gangly, and the waves do not recognize her. The fish nibble at the blunt tips of her toes, unafraid of this new beast with square teeth and round fingernails. Her hair becomes a cloud around her, catching in her eyes. 

She swims until the sun comes up, bleeding pink across the water. She dresses, soaking through her clothes in patches so she’ll have to dry them on the line, and shivering, she climbs her way back to the lighthouse. One day, she’ll find the grave of her old skin, buried under floorboards or in the yard behind the house, wherever her husband thought she wouldn’t notice. One day, she won’t come back at all.

But until then, she suffers these new legs, like stilts of fragile bone and easily torn tendon. She always spends her nights in the ocean, drinking in the water and salt, hoping it might remember her voice,  hoping it might save her.

She’s always disappointed in the morning.