A Selkie Tale in Times of Climate Change

By Shelly Jones

Her body sprawls across the beach, algae knotting her legs. I scan the coastline for her clothes, but see only a grey plastic bag folding under the waves. I pull her from the warm water, careful not to touch the burns scouring her naked skin. She gasps, tries to speak, voice guttural, muted.

Carrying her across the rocky cove, we climb the sea-slickened steps, past sallow, salt-stained leaves. I brew ginger tea, dark as the depths she comes from, and place the cup before her. She winces, steam pooling around her face; her nose wrinkles at the zest. She touches the coral-colored root, her eyes distant, reminiscent.

As the tide recedes, I wrap her with a blanket. Its lacy stitches cover her like pallid reefs, undulating as she turns in her sleep. Tendrils of her hair stretch out toward the sea, searching for something safe that is no longer there.  

Shelly Jones (she/her/hers) (@shellyjansen) is a Professor of English at a small college in upstate NY, where she teaches classes on mythology, folklore, and writing.