‘A Ring of Gold’ by Beverley Farmer

‘A Ring of Gold’ is another story where nothing very much happens. The story is narrated by a widow who lives, like Farmer did, somewhere on Port Philip in the Australian state of Victoria. Every day she walks along the beach. One day, she sees a seal washed up on the shore. On another, she finds a ring in the sand. Both these events prompt a series of memories and reflections on the woman’s past, her love of swimming, and the death of her husband, structurally dictated by the rhythm of the water and the tides, building in and out of dreams. The story invokes Celtic stories about selkies, beautiful women who were half seal, a piece of folklore with which I have been fascinated my entire life. It is one of the most powerful meditations on the natural world in fiction I have ever read, one best enjoyed beside water. 

Originally published in Kunapipi: A Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Culture, 1985, and available to read online here. Collected in This Water, 2017, Giramondo