by Brittany E. Burns

The wind blew the hanging shells until they
snapped and broke. The ocean curled beneath its
rage. Her skin shone like sun-bleached shells shattered
on a nest of kelp. The selkie skin I
stole to make her mine. Her strange voice uttered
no complaint when those pale bare feet touched grass.
Her new legs fought the thinness of the air.
I consumed her desire, she crashed against
me like the sea. What I stole I could not
keep. She found my cowardice, buried deep
in the surf, and never glancing behind
dove downward, downward into the sea.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The selkie is a mythological creature that has interested me since watching a film called The Secret of Roan Inish. I also wrote an independent research paper as part of my Folklore minor about the relation of the selkie myths to changing gender norms in the British Isles. The poem’s form is unrhymed iambic pentameter which further communicates the rhythm of the waves of the ocean.

IMAGE: “Selkie,” hand-painted linocut in a limited edition of 60 by Jaysprints. Available at etsy.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brittany E. Burns is currently a senior BFA student at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and is graduating this December. She has been avidly interested in Irish folklore and mythology from a young age and studied it during her college career and independently for several years. She has written prose and poetry about the subject of fairies and other creatures of Irish myth, including this poem.