The Story of the People’s Tree ~Lorca’s Lullaby~


“Does the book about ‘my case’ tell the name of my executioner, that friend of Juan Luis Trescastro?”

The one asking is the legendary Andalusian writer Federico García Lorca, whose ‘spirit voice’ is conversing with me as I ride Torda Chica the mare in the Spanish desert, with Billy the Kid’s ghost asleep behind me. My ‘she-horse’ is following a strange pink-tailed cat that always seems to appear in my dreamtime world when I need to change course. We are heading to the ruins of the Moorish castle of Tabernas, in the province of Almería.

“Un tal Antonio…” I dare say no more.

“Here we go… Antonio Benavides Benavides, my ‘sort of’ primo… So my feeling was correct,” the poet determines in a sad voice.

Relieved that Federico himself has come up with THE name of his distant relative who is said to have pulled the trigger on him, I know it is time to tell the poet about the synchronicity that occurred in the previous chapter, regarding that surname Benavides. “You know Federico,” I start, “I didn’t share this with you earlier, but your voice came to me just as Torda Chica the mare reached a new fork in the road, where this ‘arroyo,’ la Rambla de Galera, meets the… Rambla Benavides…”

“Goodness gracious!” exclaims Federico. “I had no idea! I am often here in Almería in spirit, mostly because of the drama that occurred nearby and inspired my play Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), but I never knew the names locals gave to these ramblas.” After a pause, he adds “I never cease to be amazed by Spirit’s directions, such incredible cosmic winks…”

Glad to hear the poet speaking of his fate in terms of ‘winks’ just like I would, I tell him: “I thought you guys in spirit knew it all about THE GREAT Spirit!”

“Not at all! We are far from knowing it all. We’re always learning, whichever side of the veil we stand on,” explains Federico. “Please, tell me more about your thoughts regarding this name ‘coincidence’…”

“I don’t know how it happens at all, but I can attest to Spirit’s little schemes, always orchestrating synchronicities, especially regarding place names. Those always act as ‘reminders,’ wherever I go. In your case, it feels like the Benavides last name had to show up here in the heart of the desert for our encounter to take place.  If I may ask, Federico, when you wrote La Casa de Bernarda Alba, why did you use that Benavides name verbatim, together with others that clearly identified your father’s ‘familiar enemies’?”

“Ha! THE question…” sighs Federico. “I see you may be as cautious as my mother and my brother wanted ME to be when they begged me to change the damn names… But I wouldn’t. BIG mistake! You see, I wanted to get my point across, and also to let my father know that I would stick with his side in the silent war he waged with them, and I would always have his back.”

“Well maybe your own back had enough to deal with already, without the extra weight of your father’s business,” I am bold enough to express. “Those Andalusian feuds really don’t pale in comparison with Corsican dramas or the Sicilian Cosa Nostra!” I add, feeling extremely jaded with the whole concept of vengeance.

“True. Todo por la Tierra…” Federico sighs. “Sacred Land rights —and their inherent cursed fights— have always made men’s blood boil. Regarding my father, I feared he might have been disappointed in my lack of manhood. Don’t get me wrong, he loved me; very much. But I don’t think his dream family scenario had contemplated a first-born becoming a homosexual writer only interested in the land for its poetic potential… Maybe I was trying to ‘compensate’ for what I felt were ‘shortcomings’ of mine through showing my father that, I too could be un machote, at least in writing.”

“Oh God… ‘un machote’. I hate that expression —and especially what it conveys. ‘Tough guys’ are not what this world needs, except maybe for freaky TV fights, tipo lucha libre: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, in this Spirit Talk Arena today, you are about to witness the epic battle Federico García Lorca, the self-proclaimed Badass Writer, will wage against his own Ass-Beaten Shadow!’” I tease, imitating the unbearable loudness of a vociferous wrestling commentator.

Badass Writer and Ass-Beaten Shadow? Ugh, no, thank you!” Federico reacts in disgust, a bit offended by my distasteful pun, since the poet is said to have been ‘shot in the ass’ for being gay. “However, you are right: pretending to be a ‘tough guy’ was not my wisest choice. In the end it turned out that even my father was upset with me for using certain names. But what can I do… A lo hecho, pecho. What’s done is done. In my defense, I will add that, apart from the family feuds, there was a literary reason for me to include ‘BEN-AVID-ES’… Because… Just listen to that sound! I needed it in my drama about a castrating Momma dooming her desperate daughters. Furthermore, the last name’s etymology is so fascinating.”

“Why is it fascinating?” I inquire, always interested when there’s something new to learn, language-wise.

“Those relatives of my father, the ‘Ben-avid-es’, were so narrow-minded, so opposed to anything different from them, yet their very name BEGGED them to dig deeper. Their surname is of ancient Jewish descent…”

“True! The ‘Ben-’ prefix means ‘son of’. Although I think it could be Arabic too, couldn’t it?”

“Yes, but what follows, ‘avid,’ lost its ‘D’ somewhere along the line,” explains Federico. “So that last name originally meant ‘Sons of David’. The old Spanish Jewish community mostly descended from King David, of the famed tribe of Judah. I found a possible explanation for the presence of ‘Benavides’ in the Province of León (meaning ‘lion’), in this case a name chosen in remembrance of Jacob’s blessing.”

“What blessing?” I inquire.

“Old man Jacob blessed Judah, his fourth son with Leah, symbolically addressing him as a lion’s cub, for the strength, power and majesty the animal represents. Some say it was also a cryptic prophecy announcing the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus, descendant of the Judah line. Benavides as a last name would come from the legendary romance between Alfonso, King of León and of Castile, and a beautiful Jewess from the House of David. The son fruit of their union was named Fernando Alfonso de Benavides. The descendants of the family would become members of nobility, through the prestigious Casa de Benavides. There is a town named Ben-David, aka Benavides, in that León Province: la Villa de Benavides de Órbigo.”

“Fascinating indeed…” I say in awe. “What about the ‘-es’ suffix in ‘Benavides’ then? I was under the impression that it also had a filiation meaning.”

“Correct. Filiation or provenance. That’s what the ‘-es’ / ‘-ez’ ending usual denotes. The difference between ‘s’ or ‘z’ stems from diverse accents, whether the speakers use ‘el SeSeo’, speaking with the ‘s sound’, or ‘el CeCeo’, the characteristic ‘th’ sound so frequent in our multicultural Spain.”

“Haha, yes!! ‘El ceceo’… Those who speak ‘American Spanish’ find it hilarious. ‘GraTHias’ for the reminder, Federico” I say, grateful both for the memory and his erudition, which enables to release the tension inherent to the recollection of his own murder.

You arrre welcome,” jokes Federico, exaggerating his rolling of the ‘r’. “Most languages have a similar device to evoke filiation, actually,” he proceeds. “Just in the Iberian Peninsula, we have ‘-is’ in Catalan (that one I learned from Ana María Dalí), then all the endings in ‘-az, –iz, –oz or –uz’. And of course ‘-es’ can also denote a Portuguese origin.”

“I love languages so much…” I say in a contemplative tone. “I am imagining that under different skies, Ben-avid-es could have become O’Davidson, or even Macavidson!“ I say with Billy’s ‘McCarty’ surname in mind.

“Haha! ‘Macavidson’… Brilliant, yes! Or Fitzavipoulos, another fictitious surname, this time of mixed German-Greek origins!” Federico says, taken by the creative game.

“Heehee, I love this. What about Bendavidovski!?” I suggest, giggling at this Judeo-Polish hybridization, maybe my subconscious attempt to reconcile Sephardic and Ashkenazi origins…

After a pause I add: “Isn’t it funny, well, sort of funny, that Antonio Benavides Benavides would bear ‘twin last names,’ as though hinting at some ‘twin filiation?’ Not the best way to put it, but I know you understand what I mean.”

“I understand and I do find it funny. Trágicómico. ‘Trescastrimedinacómico’,” he ventures, playing with the last names of Antonio’s friend: Juan Luis Trescastro Medina, the braggart who was so proud to say ‘he’ had shot those two bullets through Federico’s ass…

I go ahead and think out loud: “This little game around names makes me ponder: how ironic is it that a Fascist like Juan Luis ‘Trescastro Medina’ had last names that evoke both the leader of the Cuban revolution, ‘Castro’, and the Arabic name for town, ‘Medina’…”

“Oh? Cuba had a revolution?” observes Federico, in need of catching up with my timeline’s historic references. “Yours is an interesting take… and those word games are invitations from the Beyond, for you to receive important messages,” Federico explains in a more solemn tone.

“That’s how I see it too. Now you reminded me of a time glitch. Because even though I know time is not linear once we cross over, in your lifetime the ‘castro’ reference would only have made Juan Luis think of its Latin meaning: the ‘castle’.”

“Like our beloved Alhambra palace,” Federico acquiesces. “Who is to say that Trescastro did not secretly long for the Muslim past of our town, but was unable to acknowledge it in the ‘role’ he held in that incarnation of a Fascist pawn, hence his huge inner conflict…” the poet mysteriously suggests.

“That would make him much more complex and interesting,” I say. “Zoghbi…” I add, surprising myself for saying ‘poor thing’ in Arabic as I refer to Juan Luis.

“Heeheehee… ‘Zoghbi’ is how they would call Boabdil. All this is sooo perfect!” Federico sounds profoundly satisfied with my strange reaction.

After his mischievous giggle and enigmatic appreciation, Federico invites me to proceed: “Tell me: how did Juan Luis manage to soil my name at the Jandilla Bar… Hard to imagine he could make the place even ‘stinkier’ than it was in Muslim times!”

“Oh, right! The Jandilla stood on the old grounds of a Nasrid tannery!” I say, appreciative of Federico’s hint. “I can still smell the stench from my visit to the tannery of Fes, where I searched for Boabdil’s elusive grave…”

“I, too, visited Morocco! It was back in 1931, December, just before New Year’s Eve.” Federico shares with me. “We didn’t have time to go as far south as Fes though. I accompanied Fernando de los Ríos, then Ministro de la Instrucción Pública, as his personal secretary. It was an official visit, a four-day trip, so we could only see Tetuán, Ceuta, Villa Sanjurjo and Cape Spartel.”

“I love Cape Spartel!” I say, remembering my visit to its impressive Hercules Caves. Those natural wonders have a famous opening in the rock that draws the profile of the African continent in mirror. In a vision I had years ago, a ‘revised’ Nativity scene occurred there: a Native-American ‘Joseph’ was looking at the horizon through a hybrid device between kaleidoscope, spyglass and peace pipe; the newborn ‘baby Jesus’ was a desert rose I had bought at the caves; I was the Virgin clad in Muslim attire, and the three wise monkeys were the three Kings who had brought henna… Now thanks to this revelation of Federico’s trip, I am including in my mind’s eye vision a picture of him dressed up as a Moor, also adding in the guise of caption his wise words about Mystery.

“The name Villa Sanjurjo is not familiar to me,” I confess, once back from my reverie.

“Maybe the name has changed since then… Who knows,” says Federico. “When our retinue visited the town, we learned that it was named after General José Sanjurjo. His troops had landed on the local beach six years before our visit, and he claimed that territory for Spain. Ours was such a short trip that we could only visit the Rif region. We saw Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities, temples and schools. I was so happy to help don Fernando with his speeches. We would always insist on the importance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue.”

“Beautiful! I spent years working EXACTLY on that, when I taught at the University of Granada,” I say, moved to learn this new facet of the connection I feel with Federico.

“Good for you! You’re making me proud,” he says. “I wish I had had more time to visit other towns in Morocco. Please, tell me more about the Fes tanneries.”

“I learned a lot there thanks to a local guide, but it was heartbreaking to see the terrible working conditions. Still to this day, many tanners die young, because of the toxic substances they manipulate…”

As I pronounce these words, Billy’s ghost moans behind me, and he starts fidgeting on the saddle, as though prey to a bad dream. His head slides to the edge of my left shoulder. He has become very agitated but doesn’t seem to be waking up. I wish I had a dreamcatcher here, to trap the nightmare in the web and let it vanish under the desert sun, but I think of another solution.

“Federico,” I say. “Billy is having a bad dream. You came when the cicadas lulled him to sleep, so could you maybe sing a lullaby to send his nightmare away?”

“It will be my pleasure. I have tons of lullabies in mind! I even pronounced a speech on the topic. Let me think… Ah! This one should work, a classic in our beloved Graná… ♫♪ A la nana, nana, nana / a la nanita de aquel / que llevó el caballo al agua / y lo dejó sin beber... ♪♫”

“Do you need to mention the word ‘lullaby’ 300 times in the lyrics?” I interrupt, suddenly very irritated and totally overreacting. “Please think of another one…”

A bit startled by my abrupt, irrational reaction, Federico obliges and chooses a different cradle song from his vast repertory. “Oh well… ahem… Sure… What about this one then: ♪♫Duérmete, mi niño / que tengo que hacer / lavarte la ropa / ponerme a coser… ♫♪”

“Yes, that one is good… Billy likes it better, MUCH better.”

Billy does, or YOU do like it better?” asks Federico, far from being gullible when told a lie.

“Touché. I’m the one disliking the first one…. It’s like with people, you know… Some trigger your ugly side and really get on your nerves, so you lose your cool and become a bitter fool…”

“At least it rhymes, heehee! Now seriously, no need for you to say more if you don’t feel like it,” says Federico. “However, you might as well think of finally letting go of whatever triggers you in ‘the lyrics’ to embrace the new you… which will be liberated after forgiving, whichever it is you need to forgive,” he hints.

“I know. I know it’s quite ridiculous to make a mountain out of a molehill. I also realize that I am being unfair in many ways, and overly dramatic about what bothers me, and has been bothering me for way too long now… I know some very unpleasant things sometimes need to happen ‘for the greater good,’ which eventually implies my own good. I know about karma’s mirror and the boomerang effect. All that… But in this particular case, it is very hard for me to stay ‘zen,’ even though I try. I think that, what has prevented me from letting go of the trigger until now was being shunned and made voiceless.”

“Well, I certainly hope that my spirit visit today enables you to find your voice again. You can also simply choose to ignore the object of your dislike, but you’re right, sometimes it’s important to be voicing what hurt or insulted us, to let it out once and for all.”

After thinking about what he has just told me, Federico adds: “Back to your question regarding why I used the real names of my father’s enemies in my work, I think that we, writers, tend to ‘speak out’ through poisoned little darts we shoot or ‘spit’ at others in our work. We don’t think much of it when we write them in the spur of the moment, but they may be as hurtful as —or even more than— direct confrontation. I am grateful for the opportunity you are giving me through this conversation! Let’s sing the ‘good’ lullaby together, will we? For Billy to find new sweet dreams as you two keep riding the mare…” The poet’s spirit and I spend several minutes singing the ‘right’ lullaby in duo for my favorite outlaw, who seems to go back to a placid sleep. I feel that the thoughts I share with the poet are helping me to slowly figure out the best way to help Billy heal.

“You know, it’s strange,” I tell Federico. “I would swear that Billy became agitated exactly when we mentioned the toxic products of the tanneries. And the lyrics of lullaby #2 made me realize that his nightmare may be related to cloth manipulation. Could it be related to his mom’s profession? I think she had a laundry business in Wichita. Who knows, maybe she, or someone else in the family, worked in the cloth dyeing industry too… I have recently learned about the cramped, unhealthy 19th century tenements right above cloth dyeing businesses in New York, there where his family lived.”

Billy now speaks in his sleep: “…Daid imithe anoisNí féidir linn fanacht anseo. Caithfimid Nua-Eabhrac a fhágáilmust leave New York, mamSlán leat, Bridget. We will miss you... Love you so much…

Upon hearing Billy’s words, my heart skips a beat. Even though I can’t understand much of what is probably Irish, my brain starts racing towards a possible scenario that would explain why only three members of his family left New York City for the Wild West, but Federico’s voice prevents me from following through with my budding hunch.

“New York… Maybe that’s where I should have stayed to dodge the bullets, don’t you think?”

“Huh? Yes, yes… Maybe,” I agree, still a bit shaken and very intrigued by what I may be starting to understand about Billy’s secret past. But I know I have to help the poet get rid of HIS demons first. “Let’s go back to that book, El Caso Lorca.” I suggest. “Like I told you, the author surmises that Juan Luis Trescastro was playing with one of the bullets they put through you, in front of the patrons of the Jandilla Bar, there by el Corral del Carbón. Today there is a souvenir shop on the bar’s old grounds.”

“I hope they don’t try to sell THAT bullet…” Federico tries to joke. “Who knows what will have become of it…”

“Who knows, yes… Today the shop sells postcards, marquetry art, tiny mirrors… All kinds of trinkets.”

“Any kitchen mortar, those beautiful almireces of old???” Federico asks out of the blue.

“¿Molcajetes?” I say, preferring the Mexican name for those utensils, maybe because I want to start anew in Spanish and because the English word, ‘mortar,’ evokes a weapon too. “Not that I know of… Why?”

“I was remembering one of the few belongings of Antonio’s great aunt, ‘la otra’, my father’s first wife. Papá kept a… ‘molcajete’ with her initials at home. When she died, she left him a fortune,” he answers as though confessing a terrible secret.

“Oh! So that’s how Antonio Benavides Benavides was ‘sort of a cousin’ of yours.”

“Partly, yes. But Antonio was also cousin of the flesh-and-bone Pepe el Romano, whose name, as you know well, I use verbatim in The House of Bernarda Alba,” confirms Federico in a sad tone.

Todos somos primos, even our enemigos…” I whisper.

“That’s a good one!” appreciates Federico in a child-like, hopeful tone, since he would rather continue our conversation focusing on the origin of words instead of feuds… However he bravely proceeds with his confession, after clearing his throat. “If I have to be completely honest, I must recognize that it takes two to tango, as they say. Another great expression I learned at Columbia University, which I would always repeat to my friends in Buenos Aires. But of course I’m digressing again… It’s never fun to recognize our shortcomings, so here we go…”

After taking a deep breath, Federico finally lets out what might have triggered, in every sense of the word, his untimely demise, together with the ‘official’ reason of his one-time job as secretary of Minister de los Ríos, a man hated by the Fascist regime.

“Like I said,” he starts, “my mother was not my dad’s first wife. Papá had married that other woman first: ‘Matilde Palacios Ríos’. I would stare for hours at the few traces of her existence in our home, wondering how my story would have gone, should she have been my mom. Papá married her en una Nochebuena, Christmas Eve of 1880…”

I gasp and involuntarily pull the reins, startling Torda Chica who jolts, almost waking up Billy again. He just moans and goes back to sleep, switching the side of his ‘shoulder pillow’.

“Everything all right?” inquires Federico.

“Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. It’s jut that… the Christmas Eve of 1880 was the last one of Billy’s life. He had been arrested after the gunfight at Stinking Springs, which cost his friend Charlie Bowdre’s life… On that fateful day the Kid witnessed how his friend’s remains were brought to a distraught young widow in Fort Sumner. Talk about a horrible Christmas present. Poor Manuela… I’m sure it must have profoundly impacted Billy too. I so want to bring healing to his soul, you know… That’s why I’m writing this story. So on Christmas day, 1880, Billy, his friends and Pat Garrett’s posse would start their long, cold trip to Las Veg…. How could I have forgotten the third Vega(s), the one in New Mexico!!” I exclaim, remembering that my wonderments about the Vega / Vegas parallel had been the starting point of my conversation with Federico’s voice. “I knew there was more to the ‘Vega Saga’!! Anyways… Seven months after that Christmas Eve, it would be Billy’s turn to die of a gun wound. He was only 21 years old, born in 1859…”

“That’s the year Papá was born!” Federico reacts in surprise. “I am truly sorry for Billy. Dying of a gunshot wound is like being struck by a thunderbolt that propels your soul, totally unprepared, out in the cosmos. And you just can’t comprehend how the immensity of you is suddenly out of your body, with so much left undone and unspoken…”

“Y… yes, I know,” I confirm, out of a strangely familiar sensation. “But please proceed with your story,” I ask Federico, well aware that we are entering the healing moment his soul has been longing for. It is time for the murdered poet to ‘recall, relive, release and resolve’ his trauma, a ‘four-R healing strategy’ brilliantly coined by Dr. Shakuntala Modi, a renowned hypnotherapist.

“My father and Matilde lived in la calle Trinidad, 4, in La Fuente, my village better known as Fuente Vaqueros,” says Federico.

“In honor of los vaqueros, the cowboys who roam this fake Wild West land,” I suggest, amused.

“True,” agrees Federico. “Back to my life, in retrospect, I realize that, just like what you mentioned with the number 37 apparently surrounding my birth and death dates, the Holy Trinity has done the same with my entrance and exit moments: The first years of my life were lived on Trinidad Street in Fuente Vaqueros, and the beginning of the end was due to my fateful walk on Trinidad Square in Granada. ‘The enemy’ saw me there, when I left the Rosales home to go buy tobacco, and this eventually led to my arrest. It was on August 15th, 1936. This means that even though my sister would have kept quiet when those men came inquiring about my whereabouts, nothing could have saved me.”

“A very good point,” I admit. “August 15th is also Napoleon Bonaparte’s birthday by the way, y también es el Día de la Virgen…”

“Ha! Napoleon… Salvador Dalí dreamed of being him. So funny if you ask me… And yes, the day of the Virgin, another reference to the three-some Holy Family… So, the ‘enemy’ who saw me belonged to that ‘other’ family, that of my dad’s first wife. Papá and Matilde were married for 14 years, but never had children. Matilde could not conceive, and it put a heavy strain on their relationship. Then one day, she died of intestinal blockage. Whatever they said about the cause of her ailment, I for one believe she developed that deadly condition because of how she felt about being childless.”

“Hence your creation of Yerma?” I inquire, remembering the theme of his well-known drama.

“Exactly!!! I created that play about the poison poured on the parched land of a woman’s barren womb after spending so many years wondering about la otra’s feelings. How she must have seen herself less of a woman, guilty, bitter, resentful towards her own body and fearful of losing my dad’s love… You know how judgmental people can be towards women who don’t have children!”

“Oooooh yes! I remember this with acute clarity,” I say, flashes of past judgmental words and gazes popping up to the surface of the memories of my life in la vega de Granada… “If a woman didn’t have children, she was deemed incomplete, ‘empty’, a witchy selfish bruja, if she DID NOT WANT TO bear children.”

“True. Also, maybe my inspiration came from my own, selfish viewpoint…” whispers Federico.

“What do you mean, selfish?”

“Maybe ‘selfish’ is not the right word,” he admits. “I think ‘self-reflective’ might be a better way to express it. I loved children so much, and they were the beings whom I could relate to in the easiest way. But I would never have children of my own, so… Maybe that’s why I could feel what ‘la otra’ must have felt.”

“Now I see why you wrote The Song of the Barren Orange Tree!” I say, tears welling up in my eyes. “I was so moved by the story of that tree with no fruit asking the lumberjack to cut down its own shadow…”

“Oh… You know that poem,” Federico answers, clearly moved by my mention of that particular creation of his as he starts to recite the poem.

“Leñador / Córtame la sombra. / Líbrame del suplicio de verme sin toronjas. / ¿Por qué nací entre espejos? / El día me da vueltas. / Y la noche me copia en todas sus estrellas. / Quiero vivir sin verme. / Y hormigas y vilanos, soñaré que son mis hojas y mis pájaros. / Leñador / Córtame la sombra. / Líbrame del suplicio de verme sin toronjas.

“Both sad and beautiful…” I say in appreciation. “I was reminded of Peter Pan in search of his own shadow when I first read the orange tree’s plea. Strange how ‘vilano’ (thistledown) sounds like ‘villano’ (villain)… Did you know that in the Mojave Desert, where Huxley once lived, some wasps look like ‘hormigas de vilano’? They are called thistle-down velvet ants…”

“I want to ask you something about that poem, Federico” I add. “Your tree is living among mirrors… So could we say that the ants, which the tree wants to turn into leaves, are mirrored by those that haunted Dalí, in his recurring image of the insects coming out of his wounded palm?”

“This is a great question!” answers Federico. “I had never thought of it… Maybe it was yet another way of his to tell me he did love me but….”

“…but he couldn’t. Yes. I think he just wasn’t ready to be openly gay in that lifetime… So he chose to form the strangest couple ever, within a heterosexual relationship…” After a pause I add: “Back to childlessness, what does feel selfish to me is to go ahead and have children when you know you are NOT into motherhood. Precisely like Dalí’s wife, Gala, who had her child, poor Cécile, with her first husband Paul Éluard… Gala shunned her daughter after she fell in love with Salvador. She refused to take care of, or even see her own flesh and blood.”

“I agree with the way you see Gala, even though I know, from the teachings in the Beyond, that we shouldn’t judge,” adds Federico. “Still, it is not easy, even from here, not to judge THAT woman! But things would really be much easier without judgment. I shouldn’t have judged the bitterness felt by Matilde’s family when my dad dispossessed them of what they considered rightfully theirs.”

“What happened exactly?” I inquire.

“Apart from inheriting a lot of money and land after Matilde died, my father somehow ‘took advantage’ of the dire consequences of Spain’s loss of Cuba.”

“Cuba’s loss has something to do with your dad’s first in-laws? How strange… It reminds me: a so-called ‘journalist’, RANDOLPH HEARST, was the one who made up stories that precipitated the Spanish-American war. He was the same guy who had also fabricated a ridiculous story accusing another ‘dear ghost of mine’ of stealing clothes to afford her drug fix.”

“Who is that dear ghost of yours?” the poet inquires.

“Annie Oakley. I have left her asleep in a Venetian mask shop,” I smile. “I guess because she needed some extra rest after fighting that HEARST man in her lifetime. I can’t even remember how many libel trials she fought against his sensationalist press, la prensa amarilla…”

“Funny name, isn’t it? ‘Yellow Press’… For some reason I used yellow a lot in my verses…” Federico realizes.

“Maybe because it is related to self-worth,” I suggest, inspired by the meanings of chakras my ‘ghosts’ learned about earlier in this saga. “At the Facultad de Letras de Granada, in a new building that didn’t exist in your lifetime, I painted my office yellow, with the valuable help of a very special janitor. In many ways, she reminds me of la Colorina… at least from what I read about that person who was so close to your family.”

“¡¡Nuestra querida Dolores, la colorina!!” Federico exclaims, obviously moved that I know about his brother’s wet nurse, a faithful servant.

“Yes… ‘My’ Colorina’s name is Antonia. She would always bring me treats, flowers she cut for me in the gardens… So adorable. She would spend hours with me at the office when everybody else had left already, and who’s to say… Maybe she helped me paint my walls in bright colors as an unconscious way to revive ‘your’ Colorina. Maybe Antonia’s name is also a sign for you to start shifting the impression you have of ‘Antonio’? Also, yellow being the color of self-esteem, maybe this color is meant to shine bright on us today to help you rebuild what was destroyed when you were killed…” I add.

“How interesting…” says Federico, happy to be learning these things today. “So much behind a color… Back to the yellow press, I wonder how things would have turned out if, apart from clearing her name, your friend Annie also had fought that man ‘HEARST’ over his tall tales about Spain’s abuses in Cuba.”

“Then maybe she would have turned that man’s last name into HEARTS…” I suggest out of wishful thinking. “But Annie was still gullible back then, and quite belligerent regarding Spain. I’ll teach her to love the country you and I know so well,” I add.

“I hope so! For you to understand the connection between my family’s fortune and Cuba being lost to los Americanos, you must know that as a result of the war, Spain no longer received sugar cane, so my father decided to invest in beetle. His competitors, among which were many relatives of Matilde, wanted to do the same, but papá put many spokes in their business’ wheels!! And the Roldán clan was not happy about that…”

“ROLDÁN… It is the anagram of LADRÓN, thief!” I realize.

“In our case my father might actually have been the one called thief, though…” Federico admits. “Long story short, those people hated my dad for the tricks he played on them, for example when he claimed the sugar factory THEY had invested in was polluting the river, so he managed to close it down, bringing all the profit to the rival factory in which HE had interests…”

“And they couldn’t forgive…”

“They couldn’t… Which is why YOU AND I MUST FORGIVE ALL!!! And be forgiven too… We need the cycle to be broken, please!!! I want the memory of the Benavides, Albas and Roldanes/Ladrones to stop stealing my essence. YES, I ripped them off their dignity after my father ripped them off their lands and prosperity, but we need to move on!” he cries.

The sudden, sheer despair in Federico’s voice makes me shiver. He came to me in search of healing, a huge honor and a tremendous responsibility. He counts on me to help him from this side of the veil. I must come up with something, quick.

“OK, Federico. Let me see,” I say, trying to find a way to ease his pain and break the curse. “Please close your eyes, or whatever it is you have in your light body on the other side, and visualize the names of those ‘clans’…”

A Candelabra Balloon’s Drive…” he whispers.

In an incredibly fast way, his creative mind has managed to rearrange the letters of the four last names Lorca-Alba-Roldan-Benavides into this perfect new image. It inspires me to go ahead and play with those names too, transforming them into a healing experience.

“See how, all of a sudden, a bright white light envelops the letters of ‘a candelabra balloon’s drive’ to turn them into a fluffy cloud.” I say, wiping a gentle tear trickling down my cheek as this image I came up with reminds me of a children’s show I loved.

“The cloud is hovering over you, taking the remnants of the lead bullet from your body. The magic cloud has become a powerful magnet aspiring what was left contaminating your body and hurting your soul. See how those metallic particles are absorbed by the cloud. Soon the cloud is dissolving, writing in these beautiful blue skies of Almería the letters of FORGIVENESS. Now repeat these words after me: ‘please forgive me as I forgive you; please let’s work together to wipe the curse away, for the new generations to start with a blank slate, please let’s transmit the best of our essence to our new selves below’.”

After Federico repeats the words I add: “Federico, now feel how those families and your own are receiving the blessing of el perdón, to self and each other. See how all the members of those feuding families are now working together at a better tomorrow, through knowledge, beauty and art. Visualize it, believe it, feel it. The healing is here…”

I can hear Federico’s soft sobs, and I feel in my own body how he releases the pent-up pain, sorrow, anger and hurt. I can also feel his strength is slowly leaving him; I know this soul sherd he left back here in the dream realm of Almería will soon return where it belongs, now healed from what still held him back and prevented the full healing of the new self he had sent on earth.

“Thank you,” says Federico. “I feel so much peace now, as though that lullaby we sang together was also taking me to dream new, sweet dreams. I know the other clans’ members feel it too. You are reaching a new section on this path, which I am not meant to go to… for now. I’ll have a peace ritual at el Soto de Roma before going back into the light. It was such a pleasure to meet you in Spirit, hijita luminosa.”

“It was my pleasure too, and an honor, Federico” I answer. “Maybe, while you go to el Soto de Roma, I’ll encounter… la Sota del Moro,” I say half smiling, willing to share one last pun with the poet.

 “It’s a good one, a good one, mijita, he says using the Mexican term of endearment. I bless you now, for the rest of your journey, and always. You are loved.”

As he gives me his blessing in parting, a shower of luminous yellow particles wraps Torda Chica and us, her riders, in a pleasant, warm bubble, inviting us to enter the tunnel now standing on our path.


One thought on “The Story of the People’s Tree ~Lorca’s Lullaby~

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