Growing up on a farm in Western Pennsylvania, one of my heroes was Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) -- a brave and talented female who died too soon. Fearlessly Earhart broke barriers for all women and my admiration for her led to the following poem (which is a tiny bit mathy -- since it contains several numbers). The 125th anniversary of Earhart's birth occurs soon -- on July 24, 2022 -- and lots of years ago after reading about her life I wrote these lines to celebrate my appreciation for this remarkable woman.
Lost Star by JoAnne Growney
Somewhere in Kansas,
seven years old,
belly slamming on ice --
a close call.
Set for collision
with a horse and cart,
that girl put down her head
and slid between the horse's legs.
nursed wounded soldiers.
First close to an airplane in 1918,
Canadian National Exposition.
A pilot buzzed the spectators.
All ran except that girl --
excitement dwarfed her fear.
That girl’s scrapbook -- evidence
that women can do the same as men:
decorated her with an honorary degree.
Kid Earhart, her father, studied there.
Young and brilliant, then an alcoholic,
then gone. After he died, that girl
inside the woman felt nothing
left to lose. She chose her life divided --
flying and marriage to George Putnam --
each harder than the other,
each paying for the other.
Seventy years after her Lockheed Electra
dropped in the Pacific, after flying almost all
the way around the world, people still ask why.
The answer is not
in the Pacific Ocean,
nor in secret files
of Roosevelt or the Japanese.
The answer is in questions.
Is it better
to stay at home or fly?
Which takes more courage,
to live past forty or to die?
If a woman has enough space,
will she find or lose herself?