Remember what I was going to be? Remember the first time you saw the hitch post at the old west town? It was in Phoenix in the fall, though the air said summer; in Phoenix there didn’t seem that there’d ever be a different season. You tried alligator for the first time, the only time, and tried to throw knives into a wooden target ten feet ahead of you – for a prize? – and figured that you’d be able to do it if you visualized a camera watching you do it, following the knife as it left your hand, tumbling, orderly, on a path to the scarred wood circle, cinematic, the camera on a dolly, no, fixed, but pivoting, like a head watching a tennis match from when that throwing knife left your hand until it stuck, in the board, ten feet away. But it was me, seeing it through my own eyes, the knife hitting the target handle-side, or broad, flat, and dropping into the hay below. If there was a prize, it continued as a prize for someone else.
The hitching post was outside a general store or a restaurant offering quick meals served in tin and you wondered how horses were tethered, if the reins were looped around one round log and if then the horse had to be looped through, too, like a thread through a needle eye, like a beginner fisherman’s knot.
And then there was the museum with sheriff badges, varieties of boots, Annie Oakley pictures in falling-apart frames – all background blur to four death masks hanging white, behind glass. You know now that these molds weren’t uncommon, that they were shaped on the faces of the esteemed for decades: Pascal, Henry the VIII, Beethoven, Dante. In the museum there were men of no real reverence. None noted in the display. Outlaws. Some of their faces changed by the spring-loss of skin in death. You think of it now, the plaster being poured, the head drowning, its first burial, and then, when removed from the hardened mold, reborn. There’s anxiety in your memory thinking about those faces coming out of the plaster and not being able to gasp, to breathe.
How many revitalizations, how many rebirths.
Remember what I was going to be? Tomorrow when the sun comes up and you’re born once again?