She was a blurry vision of battlefield
Renown, spraying mists
Of gore and viscera, enemy
With one bite of her
Predatory, ursine teeth.
The crimson of her sunken eyes
Mirroring the carnage
She had wreaked in altered stage,
Only vaguest memory retained
Upon wakening, woman
Once more, newborn-slippery inside
The bearskin of her berserker form.
She was sick of the copper taste
Of blood inside her massive mouth.
So she gave me her bear hide,
Too heavy a cross to carry
Upon her sword-scarred back.
She relinquished her control
Into my steady hands, the untamed part
Of her that had split open throats
And hearts through heaviest of armors.
(She feared not for my safety,
For she knew my heart was of kelp
And driftwood, a spare organ easily knitting
Itself together, regenerating
Algae. I, too, had borne my own selkie skin
Once. I set fire to it, blue and salt-licked
Upon the last beach I ever walked,
Forever eradicating the chance
Of seeing my skin stolen, my form controlled.)
My Ursa Major, my North Star,
She handed me her own hide
Eagerly, sagging in relief of striated muscles
That could bash any skull, bend any sword
In the heat and haze of war,
But shook and wilted like primroses
In times of peace.
Please, she rasped in rusty human
Tongue, farthest thing from battle cries
That put the fear into her foes.
I slid the pelt off her body,
The weight off her shoulders
While I walked beside her
For our entrails-soft eternity
’Til once more she was ready
To step back inside her berserker bearskin,
Hell unleashed with every guttural growl.