‘A Beast of a Brother’ by Scarlett Stokes

This week, we invite you to read Scarlett Stokes’ poem ‘A Beast of a Brother.’ Scarlett was a member of the First Story group at Pimlico Academy, led by writer-in-residence Roland Chambers.

Visceral and vivid, Scarlett’s depiction of her brother as a sea god at once conjures a mythic figure, wild and regal, and gives the reader a sense of her brother in real life.
The rich language and detail Scarlett has used form a poem which feels both very natural and ornate, like a seashell.

‘A Beast of a Brother’ by Scarlett Stokes

My brother is a sea god,
He sits on a driftwood throne,
Draped in Wyvern pelts,
Slain and slung over the great under-sea furnaces,
To melt away the fat,
Their scales now salt-sprayed, soot-stained,
Glaring and guttural,
Hate cold as the shifting plaques on the sinuous skin.

My brother is a sea god,
He holds the sand-grass in his thrall,
On the sea shores, on the dunes,
They bend to him,
And in the briefest of breezes,
They flutter,
Strained and stiff fronds kneeling to bow.

My brother is a sea god,
He wears the rubber of weed-skin,
Anemones swirl his arms,
Urchin quills dot his brow,
Spikes shifting in the current,
An off-kilter, drifting crown.

My brother is a sea god,
From his scalp pokes
Feathers of the Ospreys and Sea Eagles,
Taken from the wings of his soldiers’ fallen
In battle with the other oceans,
So when shone in,
The light that first breaks after a storm,
They become like
Melted copper on his head.

My brother is a sea god,
His eyes forged from the darkest caves,
Which hatch the brightest light,
So like bulbs of glass they glow,
Spitting yellow crab blood,
His gaze sweeping the tides,
The seas play under his eye.

My brother is a sea god,
His hands webbed and spined,
Nails shards of flint,
With webbing between each long finger,
Binding with a grainy,
Sand-filled membrane.

My brother is a sea god,
Down his back trawls
A three-set of ridged fins,
Each shoulder adorned from
Top to hand,
And one lining
The length of his undulating spine.

My brother is a sea god,
His body embellished with
Opaque scales slotted
Like armour plates,
Or shivering sands,
That when glanced into,
Not the face of the onlooker,
But that of the sister,
Sacrificed and slain,
Stares in contempt,
Back.

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