Home > Change and Continuity > We Endure

We Endure

October 20, 2005

At the edge
of thaw

and freeze,
at the edge

of ice
and water,

at the edge
of matter

and liquid
and gas,

at the edge
of spring

or fall,
we endure,

indeed we do,
on promise.

By Tom Montag, of
The Middlewesterner.

Categories: Change and Continuity Tags:
  1. October 20, 2005 at 10:35 pm

    that is effing amazing. I love how it’s arranged, so that the eye slips over it, like it’s flowing like the melting ice or the changing form of matter and time. Very deep, and it gives me something to look forward to and back on: the promise!

  2. October 21, 2005 at 9:04 am

    Tom, what a wonderful poem, full of truth. Last night the temperature here hovered right at freezing; it is that tipping point between so much, for those of us who live in the north. And you are right: “promise” is what gets us through — either the actual physical changes of the seasons, or whatever that metaphor may represent in our lives.

  3. October 21, 2005 at 9:11 am

    I love the ending line, “on promise.” It’s both strong and precarious at the same time. Whose promise, exactly? How trustworthy? Just like adding “indeed we do” after “we endure” as if to reassure ourselves, we who are “at the edge.” Beautiful.

  4. October 21, 2005 at 10:32 am

    What a beautiful way to capture the way we live. The world entangled up with us.

  5. October 21, 2005 at 11:31 am

    How minimalist, yet it says so much! “of ice and water….and liquid and gas ” brings to my mind your Icelandic journey, Tom. Beautiful like Scandinavian crystal.

  6. October 21, 2005 at 2:28 pm

    I love the narrowness of your lines which compress and contain so much. And then the bursting at the end: “on promise”.

  7. October 21, 2005 at 2:45 pm

    Like the iceberg that conceals and holds vaster fields of ice that contain oceans of water … this minimalist poem sounds the those depths into relief.

    Living at the edge — on the border, where (as I said once and you liked the way I put it) “every brink is the core,” and where the promise animates (or embodies) the heart.

    Wonderful poem, Tom!

  8. October 21, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    You’ve drawn this out long and thin, a shimmering edge that rests in balance on one word that is all we have.


  9. October 21, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    Hey, all of you–before I leave in the morning for a week in Minnesota, I have to say thanks for your comments. Yup, this poem is about as Creeley-esque as I can get – tall and skinny, with everything landing on the last word. Come to think of it, I might have learned some of that from Wm Carlos Williams, too.

    It has been a tough couple of months here, so your huzza-huzza is appreciated. I’ll be home in a week, and when I get back I hope you still feel the same about it!

  10. October 22, 2005 at 10:41 pm

    Next day: it’s still just as good.

    Tom, your poetry has such ballast. In a Midwestern kind of way.

  11. October 25, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Beautiful, Tom.

  12. the sylph
    October 26, 2005 at 1:12 pm

    I love this.

  13. October 29, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    great little stick of a poem; conveys my feelings about faith.

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