Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan Experience a Night Thunderstorm while Stranded on Nikumaroro Island

We hadn’t had water for days.
It must have hit
one hundred degrees
that afternoon.

Night lightning revealed land crabs
at the clearing’s edge,

betting on whether
me or Amelia
would die of thirst first.

As the storm broke,
we upturned cans
to catch the runnels of rain
funneling off our hammock.

We sprinted to the beach,
upturned our mouths
like tulips to the downpour.

The storm signaled its departure
in an hour,
its strobes diminishing,
deluge dying to a mist.

We laughed
as we returned
to the camp.

By then it was dawning.
We knew the fire
would be snuffed
as a candle,
crabs crowding the puddles for a drink.

I picked them up
one by one
and pinched their claws off.

Those detached V’s
flexing by the dozen
at my feet.

Amelia ripped
them from their turrets,
tossed the writhing meat
to shrieking terns.

She gathered the empty shells
in the folds of her skirt,

returned to the beach
to wade knee deep
in the waves,

then dumped them clattering
hollow amid the surf’s
persistent thunder.

-Paul David Atkins, Blue Lyra Review

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