The Storm at Great Hollow
by Jessalyn Maguire

Lined up along the porch railing we watched
clouds charge in over the bay.
The west still glowed warm and orangey—
all along the sunny coast people speckled
the sand and florid umbrellas bloomed
like a vintage postcard, unaware as the
eastern sky filled with promise of destruction.

“Grab the binoculars!” my youngest cousin
yelled. I darted inside to retrieve them.
Kids clamored over the pair anticipating
visions of sea serpents, dolphins, maybe mermaids
twisting in the distant lavender sheets.
My dad looked on from behind, his eyes
proud smiles– like he’d summoned the tempest.

As the wind picked up, I found a wrapper in my pocket,
folded a strong corner and worked to free the fruit chew
caught under my nail. We had a yearly ritual:
All the cousins piled into a car, on laps, all limbs
and sticky, sandy skin, to get penny candy and gorge
till our teeth hurt. This year some of the cousins didn’t go—
Their mom read something about corn syrup.

Delighted screams pulled me back to the porch
as half the sky brightened with a shock of stark light,
“One, two, three”– a quick crack of thunder echoed
down the shoreline. In a flurry the sunners, like beach hoppers
burrowing into the sand, disappeared into their cars.
We were ordered inside to safety. The air felt tingly,
I stole one last breeze across my face before falling in line.

The wind reached into the kitchen knocking last night’s
stemware to the floor. Each of us ran in different directions:
some to help, some to hide, some out of sheer delight.
I grabbed a broom, my cousin, threw me a pair of protective
flip-flops, she held the dustpan as I swept up the broken shards.
The danger was more sating than any candy, the taste
filled a hole blue raspberry chews could never plug.

Mom appeared from upstairs—running around closing
all the windows. Her eyes, part childish excitement, part
maternal concern, caught mine, as she joined dad. Both
leaned their weight against the broken side door. It felt like
if either let go the wind would rip the house off the hill
and throw us down into the bay. The younger kids hunkered
around them at the door and even the littlest, scared ones
secretly hoped the storm would never pass.

PHOTO: Great Hollow Beach at sunrise, 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love poems and songs that tell a story — I usually start with an image that speaks to me and then create the world. This poem is actually based on a storm that happened last summer on the Cape, so I decided what real components to include and then I fictionalized from there.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessalyn Maguire is an actor, writer, and a filmmaker based in New York City. Most recently she wrote and stared in her feature film, Maggie Black (currently in the final stages of post-production). She set out to write a role that she was interested in playing in a film that she would want to see. Men have long been over-represented in film and TV, but instead of feeling shut out she sees an opportunity to tell the female-centric stories that haven’t been told yet. Jessalyn graduated cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in English and Theatre, and  also trained at The London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art and The British American Drama Academy. She won the Wellesley Playwriting Competition, The Isabella Eastman Frisk Performance Prize for Acting, and National Endowment for the Arts Short Play Award.