Amelia Earhart on Long Island

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Poetry

I once met Amelia Earhart
coming out of a general store
on the North Shore of Long Island
back in 1974.

I knew it was her because
of the leather aviator’s cap
she wore pulled down on her head
and the antique brass sextant
she gripped in her hand.

She wanted to know
if I’d seen her navigator,
Fred, and asked me to drive
her down to the beach.

Walking along the sand
she pointed to an object
sticking out of the water,
asking if it was her Lockheed plane,
but I tell her no, it’s just a rock
the locals call Dead Man’s Elbow.

Puzzled, I ask her about
the Japanese and Nikumaroro Island;
instead, she tells me the things
she misses the most:
cherry blossoms and snow,
and says the beach here
reminds her of Kitty Hawk.

When I was a child
I collected feathers
until I had enough
to make two small wings—
climbing up onto the roof

I’d like to say I jumped off
and survived the fall,
but my neighbor saw me
and called my parents
who coaxed me down
with ice cream and a new
Felix the Cat clock.

Amelia cried when she saw the clock,
recognizing Felix from silent cartoons
she had seen in movie theaters
before she traveled around the world.

She understood flying happened
in the mind first, like sex,
or poems, words circling the globe,
some crashing in the ocean,
language a matter of timing
and good weather
rain and waves held in place
by the moon and tides.

I watched her leave my house—
the short walk down the driveway
and when she got to the sidewalk
she leaned down to scratch
the ear of my neighbor’s dog
the one with one eye,
who does not care about the past
and has no concept of the future tense.

I knew I would never see her again,
but looked up her name
in my copy of the Britannica,
finding a picture of Amelia
standing next to a sleek silver Electra—
this confluence of time and sand:
a single photograph
her unmarked grave.

AMELIA EARHART ON LONG ISLAND by Michael Minassian


Photo by Karen Neoh, used and adapted under CC.

About The Author

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MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online poetry journal. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist and photography: Around the Bend. His poetry collections Time is Not a River, Morning Calm, and A Matter of Timing are all available on Amazon. A new chapbook, Jack Pays a Visit, is due out in early 2022. For more information: michaelminassian.com