‘Transmission’ a poem by Rachel Richardson

On July 2nd, 1937 aviator Amelia Earhart was attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. She and her navigator, Fred Noonan had completed 22,000 miles of a 29,000 mile journey when transmission was lost. Ten ships, 3,000 men and 100 aircraft searched for the missing plane. The disappearance remains a mystery and has generated multiple conspiracy theories and continuing efforts by private organizations to discover the wreckage.

Earhart had become an early twentieth century role model for women. Her final note to her husband acknowledged the danger as well as her feminism.

“Please know I am quite aware of the hazards of the trip. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

The Friday Poem by Rachel Richardson captures an imagined ‘transmission’ from the final moments of that flight.


There was a girl who heard it happen:
Amelia Earhart calling
on the radio, she and her navigator
alternately cursing and defining their position
by latitude, as best they could read it
in the bellowing wind, and by what
they could surmise of their rate per hour,
last land they’d seen. Stay with me, someone,
and the girl wrote each word
in her composition book, kept the channel
tuned, hunched to the receiver
when static overtook the line.
Why do I think of her?
The coast guard laughed at her father
holding out the schoolgirl scrawl
and sent him home ashamed. A lost woman
is a lost woman, he told her, and the sea
is dark and wide.

Rachel Richardson  The New York Times Magazine  January 22, 2016



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