Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and: Repeater, and: Sand Creek Testimony, and: Sarah Winchester Reads Great Expectations, and: My Mother Reads to Her Daughters: Great Expectations
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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and: Repeater, and: Sand Creek Testimony, and: Sarah Winchester Reads Great Expectations, and: My Mother Reads to Her Daughters: Great Expectations
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

—William Wirt Winchester’s grave

I have knocked the impossible stiff and cold on more than one occasion. I never lost heart.

—Bufalo Bill

Easy for the living to say; easyfor the man with the gun.

The man with long ringletsworn for the benefit of any Indianwho could take my scalp—

each curl a testament to faithhe’d never lose his head. The impossibleshot spinning, dazzling, to the ground

like coins from his daughters’ hands(less easy for his wifeto watch her girls in his rifle’s sight:

pretty as sky—with sun-glintclenched in their fingers). Easy to sellthis show-biz truth: a man who’d killed

4,000 buffalo one dust-skinned year;who bullwhacked; drove a stagecoach;won another man’s name; [End Page 51]

who took the Russian Grand Duke huntingwith the Sioux (wagons clinkingfull of caviar behind them). He sailed real Indians

in real tepees to England so the Queencould see. Easy to amaze: these faces.These beating hearts. Easy not to ask:

What dead must be carried inside?Once, he said, I crippled a bear, and Mr. Bearmade for me, charging, but before he reached me,

I had eleven bullets inside him, a little morelead than he could comfortably digest.Easy to admire his father—a Quaker—

stabbed for preaching abolition;his only son, dead young of scarlet fever.To believe they weighted his heart

so he could not lose it. To needhis wild bull’s-eye faith: the point betweendaughter and coin, real life and show,

where even risking everything comes easy. [End Page 52]

Alexandra Teague

inline graphicAlexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography (Persea, 2010), winner of the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award, and of The Wise and Foolish Builders (Persea, 2015). A previous NEA and Stegner Fellow, she is assistant professor of poetry at the University of Idaho and an editor for Broadsided Press.

Where is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine?Winchester wrote. This gun that can be loadedon Sunday and fired all week. This gun that makes a man

the equal of a company each minute, a regiment in ten,a full brigade in thirty. This daylight full of lead—where is the genius to grasp it? This terrible engine

that can sink in a river, fire like it’s never beenwet? A resolute man on horseback can travel westfor a month of Sundays: this gun makes a man

always ready. So He Cannot Be Captured. No weaponmore effective in the world, its aim more deft.Where is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine—

to look past its sometime misfires, its unevenfirst trials? To see like history it repeats itself (and yes,sometimes stutters). To fire the gun makes a man

almost certain of safety. Against grizzly or Injun,unequaled. Loaded safe as a church nave. And yetwhere is the military genius to grasp this terrible engine?Load it on Sunday; fire all week. This gun makes a man. [End Page 53]

Alexandra Teague

inline graphicAlexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography (Persea, 2010), winner of the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and the 2010 California Book Award, and of The Wise and Foolish Builders (Persea, 2015). A previous NEA and Stegner Fellow, she is assistant professor of poetry at the University of Idaho and an editor for Broadsided Press.

Sand Creek Testimony

George Bent, Tsistsistas (Southern Cheyenne)
1864

I heard Black Kettle call the people: Do not fear;the soldiers will not hurt you. He held a large Americanflag on a pole at his lodge. Then the troops opened fire—

cannons, rifles—drunken yells...


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