Homage to Amelia
Nels Hanson

Just now the TV said they're sure you
lived, greater mystery solved but sadder,
our theory wrong, the crash we thought
near a Howland Island in dim Phoenix
Chain. Tanks thirsty, radio on the fritz
again, antenna sheared, dead reckoning,
Amelia no expert pilot, an Icarus, some
crack-ups, and navigator Fred Noonan
drinks too much - The silver twin-prop
with tail-boom tries to finish circling
Earth before vanishing, each decade's
stray shard of fuselage with rivet holes
or shrunken glove, a comb, army-olive
tuna can false clues tonight, wreck east
in the Marshalls, island sliver with 900
souls. Secret Japanese photo from '37
shows two Caucasians on a far Pacific
atoll, picture matching album pictures,
slim Earhart sitting on wood dock, back
to us, tousled short thick hair, in profile.
You look like Lindbergh, so handsome,
pretty, ethereal, svelte aeronaut the day
an angel dipped androgynous wing to
drop one feather. Imperial Navy took
you and Fred to Saipan in the Marianas,
prison camp for spies, your last forced
landing. How you died, who killed you
why, your body's whereabouts, mass
grave, crematorium, remain whispers
of the spiraled nautilus past bones of
fishes. The U.S. knew about it, hiding
broken enemy code kept mum, except
lone woman from Arkansas, Cassandra
no one believed. Hid under runway your
aluminum plane survives, Lockheed
"Electra" named for sister of Orestes.
The Koshu towed it on a barge, same
size as yours as natives swore these 80
years, the woman not a woman and not
a man. All those times we worried how
cold ocean was, teeth of sharks, black
wave exploding on a white horseshoe
reef you must evade to skate lagoon's
still turquoise, a shallow aquamarine,
crushed coral, quick ivory beach with
palms, green cresting jungle creepers
splashing windscreen, Fred's Mayday
kindling battery, canteen of gin or rum,
the wayward map in flames on orange
sky so you defer flight to vivid birds,
stacked sunset cumulus, isle's coned
volcano a sybil breathing azure fire
wafting vast constellations as flaring
sorcery refines gold plume by plume
pinions quenched by a bluish ember.

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