Today, as the veils between the worlds thin and stretch in preparation for Samhain (and my birthday on Nov. 1st), I feel moved to share a poem I wrote quite a long time ago, when I was still taking care of my own young children. The story in this poem is of a seal woman (Selkie) who resists the power of her seal skin, which is attempting to bring her back to the ocean. She chooses to remain in human form because she loves her children and realizes they may need her guidance as they grow, as they too share her fey lineage. I identified with the Selkie in this poem, as she was struggling against her deepest sense of self and the pull of another kind of life, for the sake of her children.
This poem is in my self-published “slim volume of poetry” titled, I Was a Hybrid in a Black Brassiere, available through Magcloud.
For an audible experience of haunting beauty, scroll down to listen to the young Joan Baez singing “Silkie,” a song that has haunted me since I was a child.
O Selkie, slip into your skin!
“I mustn’t! I cannot!”
Home waters! The warm currents beckon!
“Swimming under the surface, rain making dimples in the sea…”
(Then thought of fruit she gave to the children, nothing for herself.)
The open ocean, Selkie!
“It rains here too.”
(She was well adjusted, took comfort in the homely tasks.)
“A basket of socks, sort them so: Cuff to cuff and toe to toe,
Those for him and those for her…”
…Until her fingers brushed the fur!
She knew it well, in every bone,
A salty sea relic, singing of home.
It would appear and then vanish, Laying in wait,
Curled in a cupboard, Hung behind drapes.
Subtle as a siren, it put forth its claims, Persuasive, yet merciful,
For in all their long debate,
Madness did not come.
By now she knew it well,
And still resisted.
For she must be alert!
For sea stories and endocrine omens,
For strange veins of blood messages, potent yet diminished,
As the children come of age.
She must be alert,
Even as the liquid life of dinosaurs roars through their plastic toys…
(She sighed for the dip and slide of each effortless glide…)
“No tears are ever shed that are not salt.”
Even in the brackish air of her lovely home, her fingers tasted water.
She went to the phone. She cancelled the appointment,
Knowing no therapist would ever understand.
(Copyright Amy Marsh. Albany, CA. Circa 2002)