After the Squall

In need of air, she unhinged every
window, revolving ones downstairs,
upstairs skylights, mid-floor French doors,
swept into the house the salt-brine,
the cricket chirp, the osprey whistle,
the sea-current, sound of the Sound,
but had not noticed the basement
bedroom window shielded by blinds,
screen-less. Later that night when they
returned home, lights illuminating
the downstairs hall, insects inhabited
the ground floor rooms. She carried handfuls
of creatures across a River Styx—
the katydids perched on lampshades,
beach tiger beetles shuttling across
floorboards, nursery web spiders splotching
the ceiling—trying to put back
the wild fury she had released.


Copyright © 2016 by Elise Paschen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 8, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“When I first drafted ‘After the Squall,’ I had, in the back of my mind, the myth of Pandora’s jar, a container filled with bottled-up emotions. This modern-day Pandora, on a sultry summer night, unleashes the Furies by accident (or maybe not). Only after it was finished, did I realize that the poem is an ars poetica.”
—Elise Paschen