Amelia Earhart Standing on the Roof of the Mission Inn
Riverside, California, March 1, 1936
“From a vantage spot high above the parapets”
–handwritten photo caption
Several floors above the ground, she stands appraising rows of orchards
at the altitude of her comfort.
She knows sky: blowing fringe of treetops and solid, sloping housetops,
how desire can lift one up.
Feet anchored on shingles, one hand resting on an ornate lantern
she views the valley, then beyond, toward, as the caption says,
“distant snow-covered mountains.”
She’s thirty-eight, looking out from “a vantage spot”—
“I have a feeling,” she would say the next year, “that there is just about
one more good flight left in my system . . . .”
Another first: she—a woman—will pilot around the globe. From Oakland to Oakland,
She leaves late spring. On July 2, 1937, sailing above the Pacific, navigating clouds,
Below, miles and miles of open-mouthed ocean. Down there, somewhere, Howland Island,
tiny dot of land—her vital fuel.
“We are running north and south,” she reports to the coast guard ship Itasca. 8:45 a.m.
After, the crackling radio, silent.
What does she sense in those last dear minutes? Maybe she looks for a way;
there’s always been a way, a rent in fate to slip through.
She’s glided over continents and seas, covered most of the world from heaven,
vantage spots tenuous and rare.
Only seven thousand miles from success, only three weeks and a day from turning forty.
Her engine stops.
In the air’s embrace, she always knew: she could lose. Now, here, from high above,
heavy with gravity, falling.
Kristine Rae Anderson’s poetry has appeared in Soundings East, Reed, Crab Creek Review, and the anthology Active Voices IV, among other publications. An award-winning journalist (first place award in criticism from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Chapter, and award for arts story from the San Diego Press Club) and award-winning poet (Tomales Bay Fellowship, Fishtrap Fellowship, and first place in Southern Indiana Review’s Mary C. Mohr Poetry Contest), she teaches English at Norco College in southern California.