Sea Changeling

Written by Elizabeth Kirwin, Electronic Music Composition by Liam Sckhot

Faeries, by their very nature, are problematic to humankind. The changeling of Celtic literature is a faery who replaces a human child. The faery child never fully matures, and often becomes sickly or dies, while the real child is left to wander among the faery folk. The mother is left heartbroken.

My sea changeling begins and ends quite differently than the changelings found in Celtic mythology. She is the two spirit of Native American tradition, a transgendered person by today’s terms. She is mainly a water faery and conjured from the sea.

This magical transgendered creature emerges from the underworld only to be feared by the townsfolk – with the exception of one courageous woman. Once the changeling is taken in by this woman and becomes a resident of her home and the village, the sea changeling brings tragedy and disruption to the maiden’s life. The sea changeling is well-loved, feared, and misunderstood by her as well. The sea changeling is disturbing and dangerous and awakens the maiden and the listener to the power of faeries to alter reality. For this reason, the townsfolk continue to fear the changeling’s power, which is simply the ability to shapeshift into masculine or feminine form.

Copyright Elizabeth Kirwin, 2010

Sea Changeling
by Elizabeth Kirwin

Sea storms come up quick
even on a cloudless day.
The air once still as death
stirs with a western gust.
Fishermen caught off guard
with no time to disembark
take cover in the ship’s berth.
Thunder, lightening, torrents of rain –
pummel the shores near the bay.

In minutes, the storm is passed —
the sun shines freely.
Among the seaweed and dead fish
an ugly, incorrigible child is screaming.
The townsfolk turn away
from the sea changeling
not wanting to lose one of their own
to the faery realm.
But the child captures the heart
of a maiden, with a child of her own
so she scoops her up and heads home.

When candles are extinct
and the whole house sleeping
the faeries sneak in to do their stealing.
The fair boy of the maiden, Owen,
is gone when she awakens next morning.

With Owen gone, and a husband out to sea
the sea changeling is the maiden’s only company.

The sea changeling grew older, and eerie as the years passed,
and the townsfolk still looked at her with dread.

But when the storms changed, and the sea raged —
so did she become a he.
At first this transformation frightened the maiden
then she became enchanted with it,
looking forward to the dark changes
that come over her
changing she to he.

It all had something to do with the sea,
something beneath the sea
something that made her fearful
and filled her with a strange desire.

And their would never be an answer
as to why the sea changeling could be
neither male nor female
and travel so lightly between the worlds
of human and sidhe

And throughout the years –
her husband never returned from sea,
and the sea changeling was the maiden’s only company.