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The Selchie's Son

The Selchie's Son
by Sandi Leibowitz

spindrift, driftwood
      vacant shell

not loam, not wave
      but foam-wet sand

I till the sorrows
      of two worlds

afraid I’ll drown in clay’s bondage
      smother rootless in ocean’s endless furrows


Mother, Mother you chose the sea
      left me behind like seaweed on the strand

Father, Father, your able hands can’t cut me a coat
      slick-furred and webbed to wear or burn


Woman, you beg me
       to bed you, wed you

claim my foreign beauty
       tugs you like the tides

swear that your love will harbor me,
      ample cove for me to swim in


I tell you, if you want me, woman,
      you must know this:

to keep a selchie man you must shed
      seven tears into the sea

and it’s not the weeping that comes hard—
      it’s the stopping at just seven

* * *

Sandi Leibowitz has been the Sands Point Hag, an editorial assistant for a medical magazine, a classically-trained singer, a fundraiser ghostwriting for a Monsignor, and a school librarian.  In addition to collecting degrees and bits of Victoriana, she writes speculative fiction and poetry, which may be found in Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Strange Horizons, Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year vol. 5, and Metastasis, an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry about cancer.  She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award.

What inspires you to write and keep writing?

I have always loved words.  I was the nerdy kid who relished English assignments like making up sentences that used a given list of adjectives.  As a pre-teen and teen I used to type out favorite poems and passages from novels on my mother's old manual typewriter.  I love the look and sound of words, the way they can move you to tears, incite you to anger, or simply render you breathless.  I have always loved story.  And I have always wanted to be a writer.  It is indeed hard, sometimes, to keep at writing.  I'm beginning to publish a fair amount but it wasn't always so (and in fairness, I didn't submit much; it was hard enough to find the time to write!).  Even so, the rewards are not life-changing.  People do not toss roses before my feet as I stroll down the street.  I don't even think they do that for the likes of J.K. Rowling or Steven King.  What keeps me going is the desire to write the sorts of things I'd like to read--to give the inner dreams life and maybe even wings.