From Emma's Scrapbook: 1944

Too many died in the world war
for Emma to save the obituaries,
instead she keeps the clippings
about the deserter gunned down
on Liberty Street, right beside
her and Dale’s house in Clarion.
Dale says, Enough is enough,

swear that when he retires
they will move to the forty acres
on Scotch Hill. Any excuse to leave
town, Emma thinks. She’s of two
minds about moving back to a farm
—half of her likes being away
from the work she’s always known.

The Clarion News says the man
claimed to be a veteran
of the Pacific campaign,
incapacitated by malaria,

that he traveled all over,
always keeping a full tank,
a shotgun in his trunk,
and a revolver on his person.

Where the man made his mistake
was in trying to settle down.
A man like him has to run,
Emma thinks, has to keep
his steps soft, his picture
out of sight, not take a job
driving dozer at the mines.
He should have gone out West

like her brother, and never
got found. Emma was startled
by the gunshots next door,
the police lights pinwheeling
and chasing the air ahead.
She wishes he had vanished,
had not reminded her that those
who are running might be right
beside you, might be somewhere
you are trying hard to live.

:: Naton Leslie, Emma Saves Her Life (2007)

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