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September 1, 2023


Veronica Shore

My mother tells me they would throw stones at us in another life. When the men can’t catch you, they throw stones and they hurt, she says. But we can always go back to the sea, she tells me, even without our skin. She believes we’re selkies.

I can imagine the rush of changing completely. Of becoming entirely bare and feeling your hair run down your shoulders for the first time, and feeling the sun with nothing between you. Picking up stones between your toes to hold them between your thumb and index, not knowing they match your eyes. You feel yourself drying slowly and see how soft the hair under your skin can be.

I can imagine the urge of wanting to go further. Of seeing grass past the pebbled shore—and birds. You’ve never seen birds that small or that color. They spin and twirl their way back to their oak nests. I can imagine climbing the dunes and scraping your knee, just to feel the grass. And to smell it.

I can imagine looking out onto the ocean for the very first time once you’ve climbed the dunes, your seal skin under your arm. And I can imagine hearing the yelling and feeling the rocks that follow, or worse—hands, large. Being carried back kicking and screaming and being ripped from your skin. Sweating and seeing fire for the very first time with a man leering over you. Not knowing if your skin is somewhere in the house or if it has found itself into the fire.

I can imagine bearing children that don’t feel like yours. I can imagine looking at them, their eyes green and their skin freckled. Look at them and try to love your children with no skin, who have never really felt the sea. Think of your pups and selkie husband while eating shepherd's pie. I can imagine being allowed on walks on Sundays because there’s nowhere you could go. Your husband has the key. Your children are on the town.

So go to the ocean, and listen to their barking from the waves.