What Lies Between Storm and Shine


The Oxbow – Thomas Cole (1836)

*See Note on the composition of this poem below.

What Lies Between Storm and Shine

For Eva and Eloise and those beloved who have departed to at last find peace.


So odd

I always thought

how light like a pacifist

drifts away on the winds

before the storm conquers the sky

and the sun surrenders its shine

or how barometric conflict

brings such beauty upon the earth.


Stranger still

that on this sphere

of light and shadow and motion

we should chance to live

dare to love

and so soon expire

knowing somewhere

between the agony

and the ecstasy

lies the stillness

for which we so languish

and so long

that conspires to persist

not in the storm’s absence

but in its midst.

© Jedidiah Paschall

I wrote this poem initially in November of 2001, shortly after 9/11 and the murder of a family member. During this tumultuous period I had also dropped out of college (for the first time) following a nervous breakdown, and I was battling bipolar disorder. I would not be diagnosed as manic-depressive for another two years, but the symptoms began presenting in 1999 when I was twenty and reached the first of several catastrophes that I have learned to navigate. The best I can describe living as manic-depressive is if someone were to imagine that they were riding a thoroughbred that is being chased by lightning on the edge of a razor; fall off the edge into the abysses of mania or depression and the whole cognitive-affective balance goes off the rails.

Anyway, aside from removing some mixed metaphors out of the original draft, this present edition is substantially unchanged from the original. I look back on this time in my life, which up to this point was the most prolific in my poetic journey the way a salty old prospector might scour a dry creek bed long after the storm abated – sure it was a snarled up mess, but there was a few precious stones in there as well. Lisel Mueller writes in her poem ‘Cirriculum Vitae’, The death of the mother hurt the daughter into poetry. The daughter became a mother of daughters. It is the incomprehensibility of grief that often drives us to the peculiar order of poetry – of course poetry is more than the sum of our pain, it is also the language of joy and love and hope and longing, but it is in the ability to apprehend the meaning of our scars that we learn to live with them. It was the pain of her mothers passing that made Mueller a mother of so many beautiful poems, and her experience not only as the mother of poems but also daughters became the thread that knit together the rich tapestry of her life’s work. In a very real sense she is my poetic mother, and as a reader I have been able to draw off of the wisdom, texture, color, and experience of her poetry to find my own voice.

6 thoughts on “What Lies Between Storm and Shine

  1. The emotional impact of words is amazing. I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to walk with you in some of this complex and beautiful life. It is great to see how you have grown in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

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