There are places in our midst
akin to larger rivers,
or a vast terrain—
you will continue to traverse.

All you have encountered
more than Epictetus
or other destitutes in ancient places
you must consider.

Now wander with crossings
more than the Greeks ever did,
this beginning of new life—

without the sense of history.

Conquest at the fingertips,
spires raised higher,
as if there’s joy always
in stars moving.

The instinct of an ocean is what you bring
to this place with tides,
as I keep looking back at houses
on stilts, one with another.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Surrender”?

I was conjuring up something about the past and present, and journeying, conquest, the way civilization evolved, and who we are: everything melding together. I was inspired by the ancient Greeks, which is why the image of Epictetus is there in the poem, as I wanted contrasts to instill tension. The inspiration for this poem was really like a coming together, but with humility, which maybe is why I called the poem “Surrender”.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Surrender”?

Here, too, I wanted to the lines to be short, but chockful with meaning: I wanted the metaphor to be all, to say everything. And I aimed for the most suitable line-breaks, how I wanted things to flow. The Ancients are alluded to, with the sense of “crossings”, over time. Timelessness is what I wanted to hint at as I thought more deeply about each word, as I aimed for a special kind of rhythm I wanted to convey in this poem.

This poem “Surrender” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 160 (Spring 1999): 71-71.

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