Folktober Challenge, Day 13

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.

Ekphrastic Challenge: Day Twenty-One

For Day Twenty-one of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, I’ve responded to two images below.

The Selkie and her Daughter

In my dreams, you’ve returned to me,
from flowered bands and gold-sun sand
to swim beneath the cold blue sea–
daughter mine, away from land

we’ll swim beneath the seaweed blooms
and leap with spindrift from the waves–
we’ll slither into sea-ship tombs
and flitter through the Fish Queen’s caves.

Gone now, the peacock’s feathered plumes,
gone butterflies, and human arms
enclosed in sleeves inside of rooms–
farewell to cities, towns, and farms.

In sea-light, there’d be no regret–
the tide has always pulled you
from the world above, you’d soon forget
the birds and trees in deep-sea blue.

I wake to the reality—
I’m in water, you’re on land,
and I no longer have a hand
with which to hold yours. But I long to see

your face, your smile, your bony knees
And what will happen, what will be?
I’ll send you songs in an ocean breeze—
hear them and remember me.

I’m sharing this with Open Link Night on dVerse.

The Lovers

T.C. Hart, “Storm at Sea”

Her love had sailed to far away
on a merchant ship of middling size,
she watched from shore through ocean spray
and the day turned gloomy with greying skies.

She heard the wind sigh, “beware, beware,”
the sun glowed weakly on the rocks,
the strands of seaweed looked like hair,
and no ships sailed up to the docks.

The news came later of storm and wreck,
of her love and others thrown in the waves,
though the captain shouted from the deck
the sea often gives, but seldom saves

a ransom to the gods below.
She wept and cried, “instead take me,”
piteously, she was lost to woe,
she swore bride she’d be under the sea.

No grave, no grave to put her in
for she’s gone to join him, all agree.
No mourners there, or other kin
but come midnight, there the lovers be.

They walk upon the rocky sand
as the stars sparkle like wedding gems,
and you might see them hand in hand
but the moonlight shines right through them.

An old-style ghostly ballad for Lucy, who is guest-hosting at dVerse. We recently watched a live-streamed Richard Thompson concert, where he did a lot of the old Fairport Convention songs. I borrowed, the repeated word grave (though with opposite meaning) from “Matty Groves.”

Constant the Sea


Guillermo Gómez Gil, “Moonrise,” [Public Domain], Wikipedia Commons

And did you see my lover fly

as sun set and the stars did rise?

Bound to go, but I wondered why.

Hands clasped fast, we said our good-byes,

now the leaves rustle, the moon sighs.


The sea whispers, and he would go,

his family calls from ocean deep.

Before the cold of winter snow,

he would go, his promise to keep.

Sleep, my love, he said, dream and sleep.


Summer leaves wither and then fall

but my belly swells, what will be?

I wonder if he’ll hear my call

return again for child or me?

Tides ebb and flow, constant, the sea.


And did you hear a love-felt cry

as sun set and the stars did rise?

Hearts torn twixt, under midnight sky?

Hands clasped fast, we said our good-byes,

now the leaves rustle, the moon sighs.


Grace has asked us to write a Quintain for dVerse. Mine uses the English rhyme scheme, but perhaps it is a cross between English and Spanish. I was in the mood for a ballad– it was only after I started writing it, that I realized it was about a Selkie.









My Love Returned in Summertime: November Yeats Challenge

Jane Dougherty is doing a NOT-NaNoWriMo challenge. It’s the opposite, in fact–a join in, if you wish, whenever you wish, to write a poem based on a line or snippet from Yeats that she will supply every day in November. You can find today’s Yeats’ Challenge here. This is Day One. The quote is:

“they will ride the North when the ger-eagle flies,

With heavy whitening wings, and a heart fallen cold:” —W. B. Yeats


My love returned in summertime

from far beyond the sea

through heathered hills we roamed and climbed

when he returned to me


We were together from summer to fall

when he returned from the far off sea

then he was killed by churchyard wall

after he returned to me


Another man had sought my favor

while my love was beyond the sea

but from my love I’ve never wavered

and he returned to me


And now my heart has fallen cold

like the depths of the deepest sea

he was ever fearless, wild, and bold

and still he returns to me


At night, I hear him riding north,

coming homing to me

his spirit gallops on ghostly horse

he’s coming home to me


Franciszek Żmurko, “In Rapture,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



My Love is Coming Home: NaPoWriMo

The flowers bloom upon the hill

and saplings perch beside the rill,

the robin sings his cheery trill,

my love is coming home


The sunlight streams through dappled trees,

chickadee whistles his happy reprise,

baby deer frolics in the gentle breeze,

my love is coming home


From distant shores will come a box

carried across the sea and over rocks,

you’ll rest amid the hollyhocks,

my love is coming home


The drum will play a rat tat tat,

the bugle’s Last Post after that,

somber faces and mourning hats,

my love is coming home


We should have danced a wedding tune,

but you have left me much too soon,

someday we’ll waltz beneath the moon,

my love is coming home


Charles Courtney Curran,” Hollyhocks and Sunlight,” 1902 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is for NaPoWriMo, Day 8. The prompt was repetition.





NaPoWriMo: Footprints By the River


Footprints left in the sand there

The only trace left of her

Her body gone, lies ensnared

Sunken deep, it doesn’t stir


We’ll sail on the river,

We’ll sail far from sight.


Hands around her slender neck

What happened to love always?

Silly fight after their trek

Jealousy was set ablaze.


We’ll sail on the river

We’ll sail far from sight.


We’ll sit round the fire at night

On this trip, we’ll laugh and love

We’ll make wishes on stars bright

Side by side, we’ll gaze above


And we’ll sail on the river

We’ll sail far from sight


Come with me, he said smiling

we’ll sail on the river wide

she found him so beguiling

She longed to be by his side.


And we’ll sail on the river

We’ll sail far from sight


For her, a ring he had bought

She melted, love in the dark

They met at the party, she caught

His eye, rolled at some remark


And we’ll sail on the river

We’ll sail far from sight

We’ll leave footprints here

And we’ll disappear.


NaNoWriMo, Day 28  The challenge was to write a story backwards from the ending to the beginning.

I used the Secret Keepers’s writing prompt 

Words: Trip /Fire/ River/ Eye /Melt

Secret Keeper is still trapped under the Red Screen–I hope the rescue comes soon!