Tiffany Midge is a Standing Rock Sioux and recipient of the 1994 Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Award from the Native Writer's Circle of the Americas for her manuscript, Outlaws, Renegades & Saints: Diary of a Mixed-Up Halfbreed, forthcoming from Greenfield Review Press. Her poetry has appeared in Cutbank, Blue Mesa Review, Durable Breath and Arnazella.
The Running Boy
Past the silent house windows
pent-up regret creaking the gates
of the storekeeper's property—
past the waking black sky
shadowed by groaning clouds—
past ten o'clock curfew, the reservation
siren shrieks signaling our flight home.
Cousin Jimmy warns me to run
faster than I've ever run before—
you have to outrace the cop's bullets,
run before they see you!
I follow one hundred yards behind him,
my lungs tangle against the dust—
draw escape like a deer's panic,
dull ache/quick beats
of my heart fold
the night's curtain.
Jimmy knows this path—
its trail of memory sewn along the curve of his feet.
the running Indian boy remembers—
old escapes/past flights/soles flying
through the prairie wind—
past the gunfire
past the bellows/grunts of white soldiers—
he runs to remember—
he runs to forget.
Promises of Winter
Last winter we stored promises in the sealed cupboards of our hearts,
waiting for the ice to break, for the earth to twist backwards
unwind its layers to the origin of beginning.
We hooked our words, dangled our lines
at the ending—a place sometimes easiest to understand.
It was that place that we captured—
the sudden arrival of guests, in a house built by spirits.
They took us in, warmed our hands by the fire,
fed us hot broth and filled our bellies with stories.
Our voices shed their skins,
we unraveled piece by piece, laughing until dawn,
embraced the sun when it rose.
Now, as the daylight grows lean—and time stretches its arms tight
around the thick pattern of sky,
I think of how you once said that autumn demands your attention
more than anyone. To speak of a season—its frail embers
and dying breath needing the comfort of humans,
more than the comfort of itself.
To speak of past winters, I unroll the fabric of memory,
locate myself trembling among the footprints you leave behind.
Speaking of seasons means to remember
our fragile history as strands of ice—
ribbons of a desire too holy to name.
Winter arrives because we expect
this climate to thaw.