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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 8, 2016.
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

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.

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

Elise Paschen

Elise Paschen

Elise Paschen is the author of Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009); Infidelities (Story Line Press, 1996), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize; and Houses: Coasts (Sycamore Press, 1985). Paschen served as executive director of the Poetry Society of America from 1988 until 2001 and cofounded the nationwide Poetry in Motion program. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lives in Chicago.

by this poet

poem
The night you were conceived
we balanced underneath a tent,

amazed at the air-marveler,
who, hand-over-hand, seized the stars,

then braved the line to carry home
a big-top souvenir umbrella.

Earth-bound a year, you dare
gravity, sliding from the couch

to table. Mornings, on tiptoe, 
stretching fingers, you
poem
                         ". . . Prayer book and Mother, shot themselves last Sunday."
                                        Gwendolyn Brooks


The spire of Holy Name Cathedral rose like a prayer
above Chicago Avenue. I thumbed a leather-bound book
in catechism class, recited the Hail Mary. Fire and