Archive for May 20th, 2013

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Selkie Wife’s Daughter by Jeannine Hall Gailey

I always wondered why she sang so strangely
at the spinning wheel, why her eyes held all
the mourning of the darkest sea. And why
she held me away,

as if afraid of my skin, why my feet and
hands were webbed with translucent sea–skin.
I used to bring her armfuls of yellow
water iris to almost

see her smile. I wondered why father
never let me swim out against the waves,
never let her walk the shores alone.
He feared she might

disappear like a snatched breath on every
angry tide. And when I found the skin,
by accident, beneath the kindling, its fur
mottled as the moors

in summer, soft as milk in my twelve–year–old
hands, I brought it straight to her. I hoped
she might smile again. I couldn’t guess
she might hold me close,

then shrug on that magic seal coat and swim
quickly away, enchantment broken, transformation
complete. She never saw me, waving frantic
from the shore.

So that’s what she left me — webbed fingers
and toes, a lonely father, the stench of salt
and seaweed, the knowledge she had never
been herself with me.

From: Gailey, Jeannine Hall, Becoming the Villainess, 2006, Steel Toe Books: Bowling Green, Kentucky, p. 40.

Date: 2006

By: Jeannine Hall Gailey (1973- )