“Jenny is toothless, eyeless, and hairless.” — Read Three Sonnets by Tiffany Midge
POETRY: Three Sonnets
Sixth Street House Sonnet #1
Jenny is toothless, eyeless, and hairless.
She spits puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh-puh,
like a snare drum, a cough, choke fit, a mess.
She’s small, barely four feet tall and she loves
us all except when she doesn’t. At meals,
applesauce orbits her mouth, Jenny’s hands
astound, she sculpts food into mushy balls,
then climbs and spiders the halls, rubberbands
from one lap to next, extorts wet kisses
from staff. Jenny’s a woman with the mind
of a babe, she seizes, she smacks, misses
nothing, lives in a shroud among her kind:
Cindy’s radio and Jane’s dementia,
all surrounded by vivid absentia.
^^ ¶ ^^ ¡!¡ πππ ¡!¡ ^^ ¶ ^^
Sixth Street House Sonnet #2
Jenny’s blind, Lara’s deaf, perfect roomies, one
burns the lights all night and the other sings
along to her radio, claps her hands
to Thriller and sometimes Celine Dion.
Their room looks like what I would imagine
they might imagine their insides to be,
like the cavities of Teddy bears, see
pink, see plush, see clowns waiting to happen —
whirling and wild carnivals with rainbow
unicorns and cupcakes to eat all day
long! Lara scoops her hands into tableau
glass beads, reds/blues/greens prismed like oil splay
in a puddle, the hard jewels of them skip
and tap along to strange, funhouse music.
∆ — ∆ — ∆ :: æ <> æ :: ∆ — ∆ — ∆
Sixth Street House Sonnet #3
The women are mostly tiny, like dolls,
a blessing for their caretakers who rack
them into their wheelchairs to cruise the mall’s
artificial light and droning muzak,
which I’d name Hymns for the Inheritors
of the Earth and for every milestone gained —
less tantrums, less seizures, improved motor
skills, spoon holding, self fed, self toilet trained —
put a gold star on the chart and give praise,
praise, praise! Jenny’s nixed her Depends, Cindy
quit stripping down at Winco’s Grocery,
Anne swapped helmet for a gait harness. Pray
for the meek, for each small triumph they reap.
Modest earthlings, little birds beyond sweet.
¸¸¸ ÷ ¿ ÷ ¥ ∞ § ∞ ¥ ÷ ¿ ÷ ¸¸¸
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, and Yellow Medicine Review, and in 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.