Microfiction: The Sea King’s wife II

This story follows on from the last painting prompt. You can read it here.


For weeks, or was it years, she wept and kept her room, letting no one near her. They had brought her back to Manannán’s house still sleeping an enchanted sleep. In her sleep she heard how Ciabhan called her name and swore he would come for her though the Sea King threw an ocean at him. But she knew the ninth wave would never let him pass though he spent a mortal’s lifetime trying. Just as she had known that Manannán would never let her go.

Her father bid her choose a husband from among her suitors for she was to be wed before midsummer. The mortal man was long dead, he told her, for time passes differently in the Isles of Bliss. She would not look on any of them, so her father chose, and if her heart had not told her his choice, the flashing eyes of Fand, the Sea King’s wife would have done so easily enough.

On midsummer’s eve they dressed her in her bridal robe and led her to the sea. She wrapped a scarf about her eyes because, she said, after so long in the dark of her room, the sunlight was too bright. At noon, her father led her into the waves, and followed where the gold and silver fishes danced among the pillars of Manannán’s undersea palace.

She waited, head bowed, as the darkness deepened, and she knew Manannán must be standing before her. He laid a crown of white flowers on her head. It weighed heavier than lead. Gently, but firmly, Manannán took her to the room set aside for her in his house and laid her down on the bed. He took the crown of flowers from her hair and the scarf from about her eyes. Her eyes were empty as her heart, for all she ever wanted to see she had already seen.

When Manannán left her, she wrapped herself in her green and crimson gown. She left her room where bright-coloured fishes darted among the marble pillars. She left the palace where the Sea King and his men were feasting to celebrate his marriage, and she gathered all the magic she had ever learned from her druid father into a great wave, and she gave it her heart.

When the giant wave curled and crashed over the strand where Caibhan had set her down so many long years before, the people found the body of a lovely young woman, lovely enough to be a Sidhe princess, and they put a crown of white flowers in her hair and laid her in the ground on a hill overlooking the sea, next to the old man who had waited his whole life for a girl to come back to him from the waves.




The Sea comes between them

He beats the waves with useless fists

His little boat tossed back upon the strand.

Still he shouts her name in the storm’s teeth,

The Sea king’s anger brewing black.

Beneath the wave she sleeps now,

Eyes tight closed against the world she tried to leave,

The curlew’s sadness furrows her brow,

Her lips smile at the sweetness of the blackbird’s song,

But her lover’s call is just a fading cry,

Echoing in the sea caves of her dreams.



An Irish poem seems appropriate today. You can read Ali Isaac’s version of Ciodhna’s story in Grá mo Chroí. It’s free from today for three days.





From the sea she came,
And across the sea he followed,
Stealing love from beneath the sea king’s nose.
But what the sea gives, the sea takes back,
The wave rolls in, the tide ebbs away.
His back was turned but for a moment,
And in a moment the strand, washed clean,
Reflected only passing clouds,
The glassy sea reflected only sky.
Gulls mocked his empty hands
Lashing the waves that had taken back his love.