- אדמה / Adamah
”כי מעפר הקמתיך ואל עפר תשוב“
So said God to Adam, "I made you out of soil and you shall return to soil." True as can be, אדמה/Adamah is a more general term covering soil, land, earth, all of those.
I was born by the sea and inherited love for the sea, but at a young age, I got connected to אדמה. As I grew up, my contact with אדמה became stronger. I learned to feel its warmth, to smell its hidden, black, tangy flavors. An old man at the Kibbutz taught me to put a few grains in my mouth and taste it. Having direct, physical contact—grabbing, rolling over, squeezing clods of earth between my fingers became an essential part of my life. Later on, I began adoring all the wild plants, bushes and trees growing on the rich dark moist אדמה around the foothills of the Carmel Mountain. I knew many by their aroma, colors, leaves and trunks.
At the age of sixteen, I discovered for the first time that she—the אדמה—can take, not only give. She took my beloved cousin at 18 ½, with bullets in his head. She took him in. He hadn't known a woman but she was there waiting to gulp him deep inside her, the only woman he would ever know. I walked slowly with the crowd to dig the hole, lower his flag-wrapped body and cover him with heap after heap of black, moist אדמה over his deflated corpse, unable to cry. After the first encounter with the black side of my אדמה, I had to face her dark wishes again and again, burying friends, comrades, my beloved brother, father, mother. And others... The more she took away from me, the fewer tears I had left to shed. Though she showed me where she is and where I am, I never stopped loving her, never stopped my intimacy with her, she—the beast and me—a tiny human surrounded by her infinity.
Today I am an exile by choice, a triple-time exile. The one place I cannot and will never be exiled from is אדמה. This piece of light brown chalky אדמה I am now hugging is foreign to me. I was not born to her; she didn't know me and I never thought about her before. If I flew over her to some far distant land, she would blend with the sky and the ocean and the wind. But she became mine. This piece of אדמה is now a piece of me. I grew to love her as my own child. I touch her daily, listen to her foreign language, whisper to her, spoil her, water her, beg her to give not just take, sing to her, pour my deep secrets into her many cracks and holes.
To my growing amazement, she began to listen; I can tell that. She became very curious. Slowly but surely, she started to understand my wishes. She is warming up to my heavy shoes stepping on her body, cutting deep blood veins into her. She has become my friend, yes, that piece of אדמה. She is mine now. I know the day will come that she will embrace me with her strong arms and swallow me back inside her. On that day, I will again become a part of her, for eternity. [End Page 8]
Amiram (Ami) Bar-Ilan is an Israeli scientist who discovered the beauty of poetry and literature at a later stage of his life. Growing up in a Kibbutz environment, serving in the IDF front line during the wars of 1967 and 1973 shaped his character and life choices. He spent 26 years of his life in Boston, MA, inventing new methods to keep our air cleaner. He is living in Cyprus, growing vines, making wine and olive oil. Ami is married plus three and seems to enjoy his new life. You can reach Ami at email@example.com