He didn’t steal it; she gave it freely
when she came to shore and fell in love.
So he tucked it away, for safe-keeping, he said.
And he’s kind to her,
and they love each other as well as they know how.
They put in years together, like a marriage, more or less,
warm and insular under strange pelts.
Something, she is sure, has gone missing
quite some time ago. Mislaid, maybe?
When the breeze blows in from the west,
when she sees the heads bobbing in the water
just past the breakers,
she itches to remember what it was,
where she could have stowed it.
She goes looking for what she lost
but there’s always a reason to come back quickly,
not to stray too far.
She’ll forget to eat without someone to feed,
never quite trusts her own sense of touch.
It is so easy to slip into someone else’s skin
when yours is absent for too long.
Then, let’s say because of a weather event,
the house is turned over,
the contents of every cabinet and chest
spilled out all over the floor, in the yard,
and there it is.
Silksoft and waterproof
It fits like she never took it off.
They say, when the sealwife is reunited with her skin,
the call to return to the sea is irresistible,
and she does. It takes time; there were complications,
but there was no staying, once she knew.
There was only becoming what she always was,
Living with the choices that led her away
and learning to be in her own skin again, for better or worse.