I do believe that the discussion of hyphenated identities is important, and, whether it is acknowledged or not, most people have multiple influences that impact who they are.
Nostalgia doesn’t melt like water underfoot
doesn’t climb on the back of a horse
to be carried far from our hearts
When my dad was little, he worked. He helped his father to strip furnaces in the basements of the wealthy and gathered scraps of metal and coal off the streets to sell. But even though he learned to work doing physically exhausting, menial tasks, his expectations for himself had nothing to do with the expectations that the world had for black boys in 1950s Detroit.
Anne Carson’s poem, “Shot List,” first appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review in 2005. We revisit “Shot List” today, in honor of Anne Carson’s birthday.
I used to sit in the kitchen and draw when Jean visited my mother. I loved to show my completed drawings to Jean. She made me feel as if I’d discovered an elemental truth, or shown her something vital. Once, when I handed her a picture I’d done of a yellow lion with spindly legs and huge round eyes, she looked at it with consideration and said, “You know, it doesn’t look like a real lion. But I think you’ve caught the spirit of a lion here, and that’s a lot more important. This lion has lion-ness.”