As Mad as the Mist and the Sea

“I cannot linger long”
First words my selkie said to me,
Fierce eyes black as obsidian
“Lest I strangle you with seaweed
Or drown you like a sailor
Shipwrecked far out at sea.”

We made love in breaking waves;
Afterwards, I lured her home with me,
Tempting her into my bed,
Our new love slowly quickening

Three months she stayed with me . . .
A season all our own.
We embraced by the ghost-white moon;
Upon the beach in sun-struck sand
Or beneath warm, comforting covers
In my rough-timbered fisherman’s hovel—
Her passion sometimes frightening
One night it stormed, and on a rocky strand
We listened to the thunderous ocean roar—
As if the storm within her were without.
Gentler times we swam together
In a calm sheltered cove
On the leeward side of the island

The wives and mothers of our village shunned her . . .

One day her demented eyes met mine,
Black as black obsidian:
“I dare not stay another day,
Else I’ll take your breath away forever—
Bury you in the coral sand of my underwater garden
Beneath orange ornamental shells;
And turn your eyes into milky pearls
Staring blindly up from the ocean’s floor

“I must leave now; forsake your love—“
Last words my selkie said to me,
“For, as you see, I am quite mad—
As mad as the mist and the sea.”

The wind caught her words
And broke them on the rocks,
And hurled the scattered sounds
Like salt-spray on an ocean’s shore

. . . And I am torn asunder,
Mad as the mist and sea

As mad as the mist and the sea

 

— Kendall Evans

 

Kendall Evans’ stories and poems have appeared in nearly all the major science fiction and fantasy magazines, including Asimov’s SF, Analog, Abyss &Apex, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Weirdbook, Mythic Delirium, and many others. He is the author of the novel The Rings of Ganymede and a number of chapbooks, including Poetry Red-Shifted in the Eyes of a Dragon; Separate Destinations and The Tin Men (both written in collaboration with David C. Kopaska-Merkel), I Feel So Schizophrenic, the Starship’s Aft-Brain Said and In Deepspace Shadows.

Editor’s Notes: The painting, Selkie, is by Nicole Welch, created using watercolors on Arches 140lb cold press paper (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0). I was inspired by the legend “about a lovely seal that shed her skin as she came upon the shore. She transformed into a beautiful woman and became a delight to the eyes of fishermen in those parts. One day a man took her seal skin as she was bathing in the shallow waters and she soon became the wife of the lonely fisherman. She spent her days as a good and loyal companion to the man until one day she found her skin and she returned to the sea as seal once again. For this was her destiny, to fill the heart of a lonely man with love and service until she was called back to the sea.”

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