Image, 1.13, Selkies, Faroese Stamp
She shed her skin,
to walk on sand.
He took the skin,
then took her hand.
She bore him children,
but could not withstand
the call of sea,
the waves’ command
to find her skin,
to leave the land—
and then one night, she found it,
my mother walked across the strand,
abandoned us and father’s plans
for true heart’s call, left cold northland.
Now in every seal we see her,
her eyes set in sleek selkie fur
My heart seemed without a beat
like a frozen drum
yet now it stirs and feels complete
as the sea-wind whispers, “come.”
Paul Brookes is hosting a month-long ekphrastic challenge using folklore images to celebrate the launch of his new poetry collection, “As Folktaleteller.” You can see the images here and also read the other responses.
He shouldn’t have, stripped her right to be free, and so, she’s, destined to, leave…
Yes, exactly right. Thank you.
She calls to all of us I think. (K)
Yes, I think so.
I like this very much! You’ve perfectly captured that folklore feel.
Thank you so much, Liz.
I felt like I had to make it sort of a ballad.
You’re welcome, Merril. It works very well as a ballad.
Thank you, Liz!
You’re welcome, Merril!
Excellent, Merril. I adore the simple pace. It feels folklorish.
I looked up Selkie. You have captured the mythical creature very well, and more. You captured true nature.
Yes, this turned into sort of a ballad. I suppose because that’s how I first heard of selkies–Joan Baez singing the ballad The Silkie of Skule Skerry (about a male selkie).
Ohhh, I don’t know that song! I’ll have to find it!
Oh, lovely! I didn’t do much reading yesterday and missed this. I love the rhythm of those opening stanzas. We only ever hear about the women Selkies, don’t we? How wicked they were to abandon their children. But there were men Selkies too who were captured. The moral of their story isn’t so obvious though.
Thank you! Those opening stanzas just came to me like that. 🙂
For some reason, I think of female Selkies, but then yesterday I listened again to Joan Baez sing “The Silkie of Skule Skerry,” and it’s about a male selkie. He impregnates a woman, then pays her “a nurses’s fee” when he comes to take the child. Cold! But then he says, she will marry a man who eventually kills him and his son.
It’s the same for merfolk. Only mermaids made it into popular culture. Topless wanton women. Why wouldn’t they?
Many of those traditional tales have a very weird sort of morality by modern standards. As if father’s didn’t have absolute authority over their children anyway, and the mother none.
Yes, you’re right. It is very strange.
Or just more misogyny.
Well, that’s always there.
True. We notice when it’s not.
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