Searching for Amelia Earhart

At age seven, I believed I would fly someday,
tramping through our house
in my father’s leather jacket,
arms hanging limply to the floor,
and his old pilot’s cap
with the smudged goggles from god-knows-where,
so big that they left indentations on my cheeks.

I sat on the stool of his workbench in this attire,
encircled by oversized dreams, as he crafted
miniature model airplanes from World War I
and hung them from the ceiling,
tipped as if in mid battle.
Here, Earhart’s mystery plagued us,
the films explored all theories
of her disappearance—the crash
on a deserted island, the love affair
with her navigator causing them to run away
with new identities, the capture by the Japanese
and the internment camp.
I can still hear her voice clearly,
feel its patient, whispery drawl
creep out of the television screen
and jolt down my spine like a zipper
coming undone:
We must be on you but cannot see you.
We are drifting but cannot hear you.
We are listening.

When I gave up the idea of flight, my father rescued
my poster of her, framed it by the workbench
alongside Lindbergh and Rickenbacker.
Her tranquil face, smooth and undaunted,
stared at me every time I grabbed my keys
and fled that house.

Still, even after so much time, I’ve never been able
to tell him that I never really gave her up,
not favoring her ability to fly anymore, but instead
her power to vanish.

Anne Champion recently finished her MFA in Poetry at Emerson College. She has work previously published in Our Time is Now, The Minnetonka Review, Pank Magazine, The Aurorean, Glass Poetry and Breadcrumb Scabs. She was also a 2009 recipient of The Academy of American Poets Prize. She currently teaches Freshman Composition at Emerson College, Pine Manor College, and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.