A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2009, vol 5 no 3

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Peter Newton


Oscar and Evelyn
(Iowa City, 1954)

I wasn’t disappointed. I did what other girls did all the time—ran off. Except I chose a circus, not a man. I eloped with an elephant, that’s what I tell people nowadays. The traveling life was what I was cut out for. Pleasing strangers. How they looked up to me riding that sorry old elephant—hardly any teeth and no tusks, of course. They took everything from that animal. Least I could do was love it. . .

him. Oscar. That’s what his name was. . .

It had to come to me. I knew it would. Just as he always did. The last time I saw Oscar was right around the time this picture was made. We were headed to Des Moines and old Oscar was acting up again. His leg must’ve been bothering him, probably infected. Him being stuck there all day in the wet grass chained to that tree. Looks like Evelyn & Oscar’s gonna need a new Oscar, I told him. And he looked me in the eye like all he wanted to do was run back to Africa.

the circus tent
staked down at last
for a few hours – home

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