Tiffany Midge


Ravenous for the printed word, she consumes books.

In the beginning it was fairly benign; brochures, IKEA catalogues, ticker-tape--kid stuff--and within a short time she developed a taste for phonebooks, the yellow pages or restaurant listings were her favorite.

Soon she graduated to the public library. They didn’t like her much there, but even after they revoked her card she still crept past the page and ensconced herself in the remotest niche--the sections no one ever visited, like the foreign translations and mechanical engineering. She ingested pages of Mishima in Japanese and obscure physics’ equations till she was so stuffed she thought she might die.

Did they satisfy? Did they quell?

Sometimes she craves Latin literature; One Hundred Years of Solitude or something by Borges. Their stories slide so gracefully down her throat, hot and salty like the humidity that had made her faint while kneeling at the Mexico City Cathedral. Their stories remind her of the shop-girl singing Paper Roses along to the radio--sometimes spicy, sometimes just a lick of cinnamon.

Or sometimes she craves the Beats. It is always the music that takes her first, a transport to a dark address. She leans back into it, flings her body to its Buddhist heart, takes Charlie Parker, the rambling incoherencies of Kerouac and Cassady, the lusty howls of Ginsberg on a rooftop, Burroughs sleeping it off in Tangiers and it is all about that syncopation, that percussion, that … sex.

She dips those pages in brine, in sweet-and-sour sauce, Tabasco and molasses. It is more than desire, more than hunger. She wants transcendence, she wants enlightenment. When Dylan Thomas raged against the dying of the light she raged too. When Sethe smashed the brains of her baby’s skull she tasted both the sweet freedom of release and the shackling of a woman’s spirit. When Scout discovered the true meaning behind the mockingbird’s plight and Atticus righted a society’s injustice, she sandwiched the righteousness like bread and butter, ate it whole, crusts and all.

She wants those words. She wants those liturgies, those witnesses, those gospels. She combs those truths through her hair like honey rinse—sweet and brittle on her tongue and warm in her stomach like baked apples, like knowledge.

Tiffany Midge's book, "Outlaws, Renegades and Saints: Diary of a Mixed-up Halfbreed" won the Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Prize, and her chapbook "Guiding the Stars to Their Campfire, Driving the Salmon to Their Beds" was published by Gazoobi Tales. She is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Tiffany holds an MFA from the University of Idaho.

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