The washing-machine door broke.     We hand-washed for a week.
Left in the tub to soak,     the angers began to reek,
And sometimes when we spoke,     you said we shouldn't speak.

Pandora was a bride; the     gods gave her a jar
But said don't look inside.     You know how stories are—
The can of worms denied?     It's never been so far.

Whatever the gods forbid,     it's sure someone will do,
And so Pandora did,     and made the worst come true.
She peeked under the lid,     and out all trouble flew:

Sickness, war, and pain,     nerves frayed like fretted rope,
Every mortal bane with     which Mankind must cope.
The only thing to remain,     lodged in the mouth, was Hope.

Or so the tale asserts—     and who am I to deny it?
Yes, out like black-winged birds     the woes flew and ran riot,
But I say that the woes were words,     and the only thing left was quiet.


"Ajar" from LIKE: POEMS by A. E. Stallings. Copyright © 2018 by A. E. Stallings. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.