by Tiffany Midge

I. April, 1969 “…they are fighting again.” ~ Walter Cronkite

They are fighting again. My plastic, green soldiers are marching across the dense shag carpet capturing POW Fisher Price animals and GI Joe action figures. They are fighting again. Barbie and Skipper are taken hostage by Ken and drowned in the bathtub. They are fighting again. My Black baby doll Tamu is tortured by the Velveteen Rabbit, her talking string gets stuck on one lonely phrase, sock it to me baby, sock it to me baby, sock it to me baby. They are fighting again. My Etch-a-Sketch draws a picture of military intelligentsia popping war buttons and planning strategic defenses. They are fighting again. The Brothers Grimm are cutting fillets of Hans Christian Andersen’s little mermaid and choking the princess on her pea. They are fighting again. Betty and Veronica turn Jughead’s and Archie’s top secret mission into Viet Cong Headquarters. They are fighting again. All sixty-four Crayola crayons grind the heads of the box of twenty-four in its built-in-sharpener, leaving no survivors. They are fighting again—they are fighting again—they are fighting again.

II. Halloween, 1972

It’s Halloween night. This year more than anything I want to be a real Indian. But my mother didn’t have time to make me a costume, so I wear a billowing, white sheet and go out as Casper the friendly ghost.

III. Birthday, 1971

It’s my birthday. I ask my mother: when I grow up will I be a full-blooded Indian?

IV. Cowboys and Indians, 1972

They are fighting again. It’s raining cats and dogs outside and they are fighting cowboys and Indians inside. I don’t know which side to take, either way I’m branded a traitor or renegade. I have no loyalty for either side. All I can do is sit divided somewhere in the middle of their war and wait for this damn rain to stop. Wait for the thunder to break and the clouds to separate into two equal parts that don’t add up to the confusion in my fractioned heart. Then, maybe the sun will come out and my parents will forgive the broken pieces of themselves.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in 1972 at age 8, Snoqualmie Valley, Washington.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Snapshots” is a result of growing up cowboys and Indians in a small Pacific Northwest town in the Cascade foothills, where my father (white) taught middle school and my mother (Lakota Sioux) worked as civil servant for King County in the years before their marriage dissolved. Those formative years were gauzed with the kind of malaise that winds up as the raw material for future stories, as fodder. These “snapshots” are from a larger piece from my book Outlaws, Renegades and Saints: Diary of a Mixed-Up Halfbreed (Greenfield Review Press, 1994), which is a chronicle of my childhood in poems and prose poems.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tiffany Midge is the recipient of the Kenyon Review Earthworks Prize for Indigenous Poetry for The Woman Who Married a Bear (University of New Mexico Press, forthcoming) and the Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Award for Outlaws, Renegades and Saints: Diary of a Mixed-Up Halfbreed (Greenfield Review Press). Her work has appeared in North American Review, The Raven Chronicles, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Shenandoah, Yellow Medicine Review, and the online journals No Tell Motel and Drunken Boat. An enrolled Standing Rock Sioux, she holds an MFA from University of Idaho and divides her time between Moscow, Idaho (Nez Perce country), and Seattle.