Po-Chop: Gabrielle Calvocoressi: The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

“Because it’s always like that.
One day, walking through a room,
you realize what you were holding
is gone and you can’t find it, even
when you get down on your knees.”

These lines appear in part five of the ten part title sequence, which depicts the profound sense of loss and confusion widely experienced after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. Each part is written in a different voice, including that of Amelia’s grief-stricken husband and a local schoolteacher who’d taken her class to wave the young pilot off.

 

Part five, in the voice of housewife Doris Luman, represents a bit of a departure from many of the other speakers. Mrs. Luman does not appear to have known Amelia personally, nor does she speak of having been present for the final takeoff. Instead, it seems that she followed the story in the papers and related to it in the best way she knew how—by comparing Amelia’s disappearance to a time when she briefly lost sight of her son while walking him to school.

 

The speaker is being literal when she speaks of something suddenly vanishing and then searching for it on hands and knees. But, within the context of the sequence and due to Calvocoressi’s precise placement of this comparison—at the heart of the sequence and as the lingering final image of part five—it also serves as a desperate image of prayer. Undoubtedly, at the time, thousands were on their knees praying for Amelia’s safe return. The ease with which this simile transforms into a metaphor and the way that intense emotion is evoked without a trace of sentimentality are testaments to Calvocoressi’s craftsmanship.

 

“The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart” from The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (Karen and Michael Braziller Books, 2005)

More from Calvocoressi

Read our May 2011 interview.
Buy The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart at Powell’s Books.
Buy Apocalyptic Swing at Powell’s Books.


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