One’s Own Skin (haibun)

over earth
ungainly and floundering
the seal

depth of sadness
the seal blinks
long eyelashes

Sometimes we stay too long
our skins dry and cracking
our eyes smarting with dry salt
our blood thin and slow.

We tell ourselves they need us
who else will lick a tissue
to clean their faces.
Who else will pair their socks? 

But you’ve got to know
when a job is done.
You’ve got to find the skin
you lived in before.

Slip into it, slip
into your other life,
the one that will sustain you
now the kids are grown.

the wild joy
of weightlessness
a seal in water

that moment
when you let go
hair floating


Based on the Norse myth of the silkie (seal) whose seal-skin/soul-skin was stolen so that she could not return to the sea, as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estés in Women Who Run With the Wolves.

The silkie married the thief under the proviso that he would return her skin after a number of years. Of course he didn’t want to and she, also, was torn between her two lives because, by this time, they had a child. But she would have died on land and the child (because he is of both worlds) finds the skin and returns it to her.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés unravels the meaning of this and other myths for the modern woman. Extraordinary book.

4 thoughts on “One’s Own Skin (haibun)

  1. Congratulations on your unique structure and unusual concept that blends all the elements together to make such enjoyable reading. Thank you and well done.

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