How to Steal a Selkie Skin

by Brittany Warman

They say to steal a selkie’s skin
You must take it whole:
A velvet cloak shed and abandoned. 
They say the grey, wet mass of it
Can be hidden away and forgotten,
That it is cast off during unexpected storms,
But guarded too jealously at dawn.

This is a lie.
The only way to steal our skins
Is piece by piece, my love.
You must fit yourselves around us like new skin,
Clasp us tight against you, heart to heart,
Let us feel, for a moment,
Complete, safe from the cold of the skinless.

I will give you a piece with that first shy smile,
Let you earn a soaked scrap with an aching kiss. 
A fragment may be won when I ask about your childhood. 
Wear the bits of my patchwork skin proudly, 
Let me run my fingers across it, across you.
Perhaps you get the rest when I tell you a secret,
Or when you find my real laugh.

Assemble these rags, sew them together.
Show me how you see me, how I see myself,
In my best moments, my enchanted body.
Believe I still run spells through my real, human hands.
When you can do this, my love, 
When you can see me,
No ocean could take me from you.


Brittany Warman is a folklorist, writer, and scholar fond of faerie tales, synchronicities, and the Gothic. She recently completed her Ph.D. in English and Folklore at The Ohio State University and is the co-founder of the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic. Her scholarly work frequently informs her creative work, which can be found in Uncanny Magazine, Mythic Delirium, Apex Magazine, Faerie Magazine, Stone Telling, and others. Please feel free to visit her online at or; twitter: briarspell; Instagram: briarspell.