His smile stretches as wide as his shoulders
and Iā€™m adrift, beached and gaping.

With brackish vision, he measures his height
and weight against my frame

then tears at me with broad persistent jaws
until I sink into the ocean. ā€¦

About the poem

This poem appeared in issue 24 of the online journal Three Drops from a Cauldron.

A selkie is a creature that appears as a human on land but takes the form of a seal in the water. I first came across the myth when I was given the story Sealskin Trousers by Eric Linklater to read at an Arvon course. What struck my about the story is that the selkie is presented as sinister and predatory, and yet he is undeniably attractive.

The story has always stuck with me, and when I wanted to write about had relationships and the strange pull that the darker side of love can sometimes have, I thought of the selkie. The myth has all the romance of the fairy tale, and yet seals have a brutal kind of beauty. They are incredible creatures with immense strength and powerful jaws. Anyone who has ever been in a relationship with the wrong person will perhaps understand how we can cling to the appeal of the myth even if we have to withstand a much harsher reality.

The poem is about that attraction to darkness, a yearning for freedom and is perhaps, for me, a final letting go of all the mythology and fairy tales I kept stacked up against past relationships.