He’s standing on the North Sea Shore,
Staring at the slate-grey main,
Wishing to wade into the waves
And never go home again.
No matter how chilled the waters
They couldn’t be colder than life,
And more willing to embrace him
Than his cold and distant wife.
Having walked out in the morning
He stalked the strand and dune,
Oblivious the sun had set,
Not seeing the rising moon.
By an isolated inlet,
Away from curious eyes,
He watched a seal slither ashore,
And, to his startled surprise,
It sloughed its dull pelt easily,
Exposing what was concealed,
A woman in her innocence
Her sea-coal black hair cascaded,
Skin pale as the moon on high,
Dark eyes silvered with a sparkle
Like bright stars in the night sky.
Then she sang such a sad lament
For the loves she’d lost at sea,
So broken hearted she sounded,
So in need of comfort he
Warily stepped from the shadows
Expecting she’d seek cover.
Instead, she smiled, “I can’t be your wife,
Yet I can be your lover.”
“Indeed you cannot be my spouse,
For I am already wed,
But, though man and wife are living
As lovers we are long dead.”
“That’s why I have come here,” she said,
“While the full moon rises free.
We can bring each other comfort
Till I return to the sea.
“I’ve ridden along on white horses
To this Northumberland strand.
All my lost loves are behind me,
Now as your lover I stand.”
On her lips he tasted the brine,
In her hair the salty breeze,
And wrapped only in moonlight
Each did the other one please.
He began to have a fancy
That when she settled to sleep
He might steal her seal skin away
Then she would be his to keep.
But, as the moon began to sink
And their passions had been spent,
He nestled in her warm embrace
And far away the world went.
Suddenly, he woke with a start,
To find himself all alone;
There was no sign of his lover
And the grey seal skin was gone.
Sadly he dressed and made his way
Back over the strand and dune,
He’d go back to his bleak home, but
Return come the next full moon.