Lost on Land, Safe at Sea


Waiting ashore for the moon to rise,

blood beating in his temples

like a tightened drum

She held him once through his silver skin,

he’s been on land too long.

An ache for salt water has driven his feet,

followed every step –

the eyes of his people far away,

the air too dry for breath.

Some in the land-world have been kind –

still, it was never the same

as swimming flipper to flipper,

ducking wave to wave.

Luck stands with him now,

dappled-gray skin, deeply himself,

lies around his shoulders again,

ready to let him swim.

Excited barks rise from the changing tide –

Come, brother, welcome home!

Now he’ll reply as his heart commands –

At last, at last, I come.


They’re coming, both over and under the waves,

sleek seal-people sliding to shore –

and ah! if you go with the selkie-folk now,

you’ll be of their home evermore.

~ Marta Ziemelis. Copyright March, May 2014.


I’ve been interested in selkie tales for as long as I can remember. Supernatural folk who are seals underwater and humans on land, if they choose? Seems like a wonderful sort of life. Unfortunately, most of the stories I’ve encountered involve a selkie, usually female, being forced to stay on land against her will because her sealskin’s been stolen and hidden by a human. Many times we hear the story from the human’s persepctive, but sometimes from the selkie’s as well. Rarely though, at least in my experience has the selkie in question been male, and this poem wanted to give a male selkie the stage. Regardless of how the speaker identifies, however, I think that a longing for home can be experienced by anyone.


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