Posted by: tlnemethy | October 7, 2012

Missing: Selkie’s Seal Coat

In folklore there are tales of people who swim the sea as seals and upon reaching land they shed their seal coats and bury them safely in a hidden place. The may remain on land for a short range of time, walking  with no real differences to note them as anything but human, but once they return to the sea they can never walk the shores again. Some cultures say they are the embodied spirits of those who drowned at sea, some say selkies can only be women searching the land for a husband or a lost love. But no matter, if their hidden seal coats are found, the finder controls the selkie and can never escape the land until the finder’s death. Many stories tell of female selkies gazing out at the ocean after their seal coats have been found, their hearts knowing they will never return to their true home for they are bound to this land.

I believe Alaska took something from me that I will spend the rest of my life searching for. Something that I feel the loss of presence from, something that grieves me and makes me yearn for. If I was within sight of the water it would be unbearable, but with every passing moment with only land as far as the eye can see I find the hold rusting on me, the grip just as strong, but somehow growing more sombre. Were I to hear the lapping of the waves, smell the fish and taste the salt I would always remember my true home of the sea. But Alaska has hidden my seal coat.  I go about my days as if I’d never known the sea, as if we were nothing more than distant stories from an unreliable source. The wind blows the leaves, shuffling  through the branches to my nose, but there isn’t the scent of home on the breeze so much as I smell the soil and the rock, the moss and the copper.

To the coast. Onward. Always moving in search of my seal coat and the return to my home. Alaska is my unbidden husband, my constant companion, but if I return the sea will be at my door. The sea will return to everything I know. The dampness will no longer reside in my bones, but in my soul. You see, the earth will always be the bones of us, the structure. But the sea, the lovely ever-changing sea will always be the blood of our soul, sweeping us towards our destinies and our true selves.

When you see the pained expression of longing on the face of another as she stares at the sea, always know that somewhere, no matter the vast distances apart they are, somewhere lies her seal coat and the hope of a return to the sea.


  1. Tori,

    That was truly lovely!

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