Brother Sea


AegirThorskeggaWhen Egill cried his curse across the waters—
Sonless, weeping, I would have vengeance on
The Ale-Brewer with my sword,

He laughed and slapped his thigh.
Come get me, little man, if you dare.
I am vastness. You have no idea
How far My gaze flies, every bucketful
A window for My ever-seeing eyes.
My realm parts before your sword
And closes over it, unharmed. You cannot
Touch me. My reach is beyond your horizons.

Aegir turns His head, beard proud and braided
With iridescent shells, gold earring glinting
At jutting jaw — some poor sailor’s fancy, gleaned
From his bloated corpse. Brother of Fire,
Brother of Wind. His attention now turns to what
He does best, which is seeing that bellies are filled.
The whirling plankton, the silvery schools,
The anemones dancing on the reefs, the leaping
Milk-breasted breathers, the billowing rays
And waving plants wreathed in his wife’s locks—
And, yes, the ghosts feasting nightly in his hall,
They must all be fed. Every corpse that sinks
From the listing ship is food for some hungry mouth
In Aegir’s realm. We are discomfited to think about
How speedily, in His country, we become food,
Flesh for His subjects, souls to feed His wife’s hunger
For nightly entertainment, and be feasted in turn.
No other has so many bellies in his care
And no other sums us up so quickly for our use
In that equation than the ocean-king
On his rough and salt-gnawed throne.


Artwork by Thorskegga Thorn.