The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Truth Is,” a poem in free verse, comprises forty-seven lines arranged in six stanzas of unequal length. It depicts the speaker’s conflicting emotions about her dual heritage. The speaker, in this case, is the poet’s alter ego and reflects her own background: Linda Hogan’s father is a Chickasaw Indian, and her mother is a European immigrant from Nebraska. Hogan uses the first person and, later, addresses herself by name, both of which clearly indicate that the poet is speaking of her own predicament.

The first stanza brings out the conflict. Normally, the two hands of an individual work in harmony to accomplish tasks. In this case, however, her hands, symbols of her ancestry, refuse to cooperate. The left hand represents the Chickasaw part of her heritage and the right that of her white lineage. Their separateness is so distinctive that the speaker needs to reassure herself that both hands, hidden away in each pocket, are indeed hers. She describes herself as a woman who “falls in love too easily” yet “sleeps in a twin bed”—in other words, she maintains her single status. The emptiness of her pockets indicates the absence of material possessions. The fact that she walks with her hands in her pockets further suggests her reluctance to advertise her ancestry. She informs readers that if she ever puts her hands in someone else’s pocket, it is “for love not money.”

The speaker continues her meditation on her peculiar state in the second stanza. She would like to envision herself as a grafted tree...

(The entire section is 634 words.)