67. From Poetry to Manic Mowing

Recent photos by Emily Kefferstan, 2017

BLOG 67: June, 2000—They met every Monday morning under the shade tree at Skimmilk Farm, Jean’s summer farmhouse in rustic New Hampshire. Dusting the old house, keeping it clean from summers of fun, was less important than Monday mornings when this serious group of poets gathered to muse over mist-covered mornings, cats, Celtic Goddesses, Vulvas, and many more themes that released their aroma into the shade tree.

When Emily, Jean’s 13-year-old granddaughter, didn’t join the poets, I was the youngest there by far, and the only one with a novel. I shared my chapters of my manuscript, Child of Duende, inviting this group, which had met like this for 25 years, to travel with me to Southern Spain, to the coast, where my character Duende was born and raised. For some of the poets, my novel brought them back to earlier days when a Boston Columnist used to write about Duende, this word that the great Spanish Poet Federico Garcia Lorca had described as a magical spirit of the earth from which all life and art arises.

Poetry Mondays were a long-held sacred ritual for Jean and her poets. But the weekends offered a different kind of attraction of sorts. That was when Jean’s other family members, like her simage2on, John, and daughter-in-law, Cassie—Emily’s divorced parents—arrived at the farm to celebrate farm life and help Jean maintain the place. That’s when they’d drive the lawn mower tractor over acres of land; clean out the pool; weed the expansive garden; and just take care of anything that needed caring for.  And after all the chores—or during that time—we’d all take a dip in the pool, relax, and then make elaborate meals from all the fresh vegetables of the garden.

On one of those summer weekends—which I will never forget—Cassie decided to get on the tractor and mow as much lawn as she could as quickly as she could. She could get rather manic, to say the least, and this day was no exception. She got on that tractor right by the nice, clean pool, started it in high gear, and didn’t seem to figure out how to slow it down. Cassie smiled broadly while holding onto the tractor with all of her might as it ran circles around the pool, cutting every blade of grass in sight, tossing them all into the pool. Soon, the pool was filled with fresh green blades, with me yelling for Cassie to stop, and her oblivious of what was happening around her as she continued riding circles on her new toy.

While that was a humorous moment with Cassie, there were others that were harder to bear. Her energy could be extremely invasive and exhausting, and I still remember nights in which I struggled with sleep because of this. She could feel so unsafe to be around, and especially given I was very sensitive to other people’s energies in those days. I was already scared to fall asleep, to drop into frightening dreams—or more clearly nightmares—as I had done nights before, and now there was Cassie to contend with.

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During one of my dreams, in which I allowed myself to sink deeper, I dreamt of my parents. In my dream, my mother kept asking me to sweep things up with the same broom that my father had used to attack me or put me down. It seemed I was asked to be with my father’s abuse while my mother tried to sweep things away, ignoring what was happening in front of her.

When I reflected on my dream, I felt I was being shown a pattern that I had carried within me for a long time—a pattern of accepting abuse, and also cleaning it up and taking care of everyone else but me, just so all could be well. It was as if my weekly energy healing sessions and Cassie’s manic ways had awoken in me an unhealthy dynamic I had grown up with and was ready to release.

My dreams, and at times, frightening evenings, and fun-filled days on the farm, seemed to all blend together to help me see myself, and to offer change—change in my aching hips and pelvis, change in my heart, and change on my soul’s path.

That summer was a summer of extremes—of being with the extremes I carried within me and those I saw around me, and learning to establish new boundaries and ways of caring for myself in loving, healthy ways. I had arrived on the farm ready to heal, ready to truly walk again, and now I was beginning to awaken to the path I would eventually take—the path of a teacher, writer, and healer who would one day help others heal as I had learned to do that summer and beyond.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about nature spirits, Flamenco, and Southern Spain, and returning to a place of renewed hope and joy. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

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59. Springtime Without You

BLOG 59—March, 2000: I’m sharing a poem from many springs ago, as I prepare for this spring’s surprises…a grieving of the old…a rebirth:

Spring locks her jaws into the hard earth,

a pitter patter of rain seeking refuge inside.

The windows shut, now open,

the moon peers through rows of empty branches,

Seeing something I don’t—

tulips growing light green stems below the soil,

pink horizons yet to appear over cool blue oceans

transformed by summer lights.

The wolf is a shadow that lingers three steps behind.

I turn to witness that all along I’ve not been alone.

I turn inward, see myself in her shadow.

Sleep in the shadow, rise in the light.

I have seen your love somewhere in this winter night.

Rise with the daffodil, yellow mind,

Springing days of sweet herein,

I see her—that is, springtime—coming.

In about a week, I return to Buenos Aires, to be in mye99b26d974466ec2594813bb5fb281e7 father’s apartment, to let the memories of our times together seep through the walls, and along the streets of this port city. It’s springtime here again—that time of the year I used to spend with my father in Argentina, his childhood home. It was two springtime’s ago I was there, and, I think, two years before that—as the days lengthened here in the north, but inside the shadow of spring, prepared for winter in the southern hemisphere.

I still remember the first time I spent with my father, just he and I, in his beloved Buenos Aires. He had never visited the port city in May, because he would normally be with his Portuguese friends playing golf then.  He had only come to Argentina because I had requested we share time together in his favorite city.

I still remember now, how, as we traipsed around Buenos Aires, he’d often tell me that they missed him there in Portugal, and that one friend had said—and I paraphrase—“The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

He repeated those same words back to me, after I had returned to the U.S.. I was driving through the big open lands here in the desert, on my way to a Lakota Sundance, when he called and said, “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.”

This morning, as I sat still with the reality that I will soon be in Argentina again, in my father’s apartment, but without him, I began to cry. He left us several months back, but it hadn’t really hit me fully until now. I 9629058698ceb27fa8bf177e5d8b15c8.jpghad been with him for many weeks, until the end, in my parent’s home in New Jersey, but I hadn’t slowed down enough to let the grief catch up with me. Maybe I’ve been holding the grief in my lungs, which have been congested for weeks now, and am finally feeling the reality of my father’s loss.

As I reflect on the fact that I’ll be back in Argentina soon, but without my father there, I feel his words echo in my mind. “The spring flowers don’t bloom the same without you here.” But this time, it’s me saying these words to him, as I feel the love that he shared with me and so many others close to him in Buenos Aires.

“Spring time won’t be the same without you there, papá, but I’ll feel your love wherever I go.”   

If you are in Buenos Aires on May 26 at 5:30p.m., please join me (and if you can’t make it, please tell friends who can come) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. (See my website’s events page for more information: http://www.michelleadam.net/events)

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

Open Letter to My Father: (pause from regular blog)

It’s been more than two months since you left, your last breath a cry of life and then you were gone. When I’m still enough to feel and listen, I sense you here with me. In several weeks, though, I imagine I’ll feel your presence even more. That’s when my mother, sisters, and I will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, staying inside your apartment tucked away inside the old quarters of your city. It once lay above the empanada shop that smelled of oven-baked dough wafting up toward your place, and then the hairdresser’s where I replaced, with decent hair color, that horrific henna hair color that made the top of my head look like a carrot—and which you kept touching to make fun of.

If I remember correctly, the last time I was with you in your beloved Argentina was two spring times ago, before you got too sick to travel. We planned another trip after that, but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead, chemotherapy was. But I still remember how you asked me, quite last minute, to join you in Argentina for that last spring time together. At first I declined, since I had made alternative plans, but then, with your persistence, and lots of maneuvering, we shared our last month in your beloved country together.

That was the time my upper back was in immense pain and you couldn’t walk much more than a block. We were quite the team, eternally riding taxis through Buenos Aires, with you incessantly IMG_1174talking to the drivers and everyone else we met. “Isn’t this city the best city in the world,” you’d tell the taxi driver. You’d sit there in the back with your little black bag you carried everywhere, beaming with joy for your childhood homeland you had returned to.

One of our last taxi rides together was to the fish vendor. Do you remember? Even though walking was a struggle, you insisted we stroll through an open market where you greeted everyone as if you had been there a hundred times. Then we went to your fish vendor to pick up a large, frozen octopus, which you insisted on cooking because your friends considered it one of their favorite delicacies.

We celebrated our last supper in the apartment with your friends, Loli and Herbert, and with your sisters, Ingrid and Dietlinde. What a glorious night. You had worked so hard cooking that octopus, and by the time we sat down to eat, and I dedicated a poem and song to you—and to the brief time we all had to celebrate life together—it seemed all worth it.

While you faced your challenges with age—Parkinson’s, Leukemia, and then Melanoma—there was something special about those final years together. You were no longer the tough, distant father I had known you to be, and your challengIMG_1165es became the gift that opened you to love. I adored how you talked to everyone you met; how you let things go that weren’t important; how you didn’t care about things being perfect anymore. What had become perfect was your giving heart, memorable dinners with precious friends of your childhood, and your unbridled passion for small things (like that ice cream you loved at Adan Restaurant—the one topped with champagne and lemon!).

Maybe when mom, my sisters, and I go back to Buenos Aires later this month, we’ll honor you with a scoop of that fine ice cream; or by taking a trip by taxi; or by greeting the man at the deli across the street, and all the others you used to speak to. What I do know is that family and friends will come together with you, celebrating your life with an abundance of toasts. I’ll make a special Last Supper in your apartment to honor you as well (I’ll even take a picture of it, and make sure you’re in it!), and I’ll do a book reading from my novel Child of Duende with a local Flamenco guitarist in your neighborhood.

It will be the first time that I perform anything outside of this country, let alone in Argentina—and it may be the last there. As much as I’m doing it for myself, when I share the story of Duende to Flamenco guitar, it will be for you as well. You’ll be able to see me there, in your favorite city in the world, en tu Buenos Aires Querido, sharing, as you did, Argentinian Eventmy passion for living this moment, this breath, this spirit of life that is only given to us for this brief moment. I hope you can come, that you can see me, that you can see and feel all of us honoring you where your heart had learned to open so big in your last years of your life, at home, in your Beloved Querido Buenos Aires.

Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top 

carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video