AFTER THE SQUALL
By Elise Paschen
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.
“After the Squall” originally appeared via the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and appears here today with permission from the poet.
Elise Paschen is the author of Bestiary, Infidelities (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and Houses: Coasts. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine. Co-editor of Poetry Speaks and Poetry in Motion, she teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her forthcoming book of poetry, The Nightlife, will be published in spring 2017.
Editor’s Note: “After the Squall” is a masterpiece of sound and image. A modern retelling of Pandora’s Box, this rich, vivid poem reaches a perfect crescendo with it’s killer end-line: “trying to put back / the wild fury she had released.” Careful, concise, and expertly wrought, this poem is a stellar example of fine poetic craft.