Shot List

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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.

Longing, a documentary

1. Night.


subtitle:  It was for such a night she had waited.

2. Trunk of her car is open and lit by a funnel of light from the porch.

3. She loads the trunk: 4×6 trays, photographic papers, strobe light. 

Strobe doesn’t fit, she angles it into the backseat.

4. She is driving, concentrating, empty highway.

subtitle:  She was not a person who aimed at eventual 

reconciliation with the views of common sense.

5. She is at the river in deep reeds, watching.

6. She wades along the edge of the river, watching.

7. Night plucks her, she stumbles, stops.

8. She is bending beside the car, unpacking trays.

9. She drags the trays through deep reeds toward the river.

Moon unclouds itself and plunges by.

subtitle:  Night is not a fact.

10. She walks into the river. 

subtitle:  Facts lack something, she thought.

11. She positions the big trays on the riverbottom near the bank, just under the water, spreads photographic papers in them, adjusts it, moves back. Watches.

12. She stands by the strobe in deep reeds.

13. Flash of strobe surprises the riverbank.

14. She sits awhile in the reeds, arms on knees.

subtitle:  “Overtakelessness” (what facts lack).

15. Moonlight sways down through black water onto the photographic papers.

16. She is driving, windows blowing, empty highway.

subtitle:  As usual she enjoyed the sense of work, of having worked.

Other fears would soon return.

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