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Song of the Sealskin

by Ellen Forkin

I am a selkie; a seal that is not a seal, a woman that is not a woman. I am saltwater and waves and sun-kissed rocks and glistening fish. I am dishrag and floury bannocks and small, neat stitches. Humans have no words for bubbles in whiskers and the tricky shadows of a kelp forest. Humans hug and laugh and tickle and tend to sore feet with gentle fingers.

We both sing. Only a stolen selkie will hear the songs of land and songs of the deep. Why one yearns for a wife and another yearns for the sea. Why neither wish to be lonely but somehow end up so.

My sealskin has a song.

It sings through the stone of the walls, the stone of the floors, the wood of the table, the peats of the fire and the iron of the cooking pot. It sings through the snores of my human husband and through the voices of my half-human children. How it sings to me and no amount of human love can hush it.

My sealskin, I cannot find it. It is stolen, hidden from me. Somewhere close, in the stone-built house, I feel it.

I do not wish to leave. I do not feel I can stay. The sealskin beckons, and with it the whole ocean calling me. It waits for me to slip inside the velvet fur, to thicken with blubber, and delve into the welcome chill of the waves. To be a woman only on moonlit nights on sandy shores.

For now, I’ll darn human husband’s socks and spoon porridge into half-human mouths. I will smell the smoke of peat-fire, sing songs of the land, take a sip of whiskey on a dark, howling night. All the while my sealskin will sing to me. It will sing of bubbles in whiskers. Of clouded sunlight through thrashing waves. It will sing the salt-tang freedom of the deep, deep sea.

One day, I will find it.

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