Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan Keep the Fire Alive While Stranded on Nikumaroro Island | Paul David Adkins

Each stick of driftwood washing on the beach
is instantly

laid on the altar of fire
most days now
to warm ash
and steam from morning dew.

Who knows when
a ship or plane might spy
our flaccid pennant rising.

The flint is slender as a twig
and promises to snap
at every strike.

It seems my breath is only good
to stoke the embers
hot again
against mangrove sticks
and husks of coconut.

Last week we found the Electra’s windshield
resting on the sand.

We use it as a sheet,
a seat,
a tarp and a mattress.

I never prayed so hard
to recover even one more
snatch of damage now:

a cap, a glove,
a coat
to ward the sun,

a blanket,

an emery board
to split
and scoop the clams.

Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.

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