arriving again & again & again…

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Marrakech, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, the square, Jemaa el-Fnaa. Musicians, playing darbukas, ouds, & clacking bell-like qraqebs. Clapping, swaying listeners.

Storytellers gathering yet other listeners around them, spinning tales whose fine filaments hold the people in thrall. Snake charmers mesmerizing cobras & tourists alike. Monkeys on leashes & birds of prey, hawks with tiny leather loops around their legs, tied to perches. For a price you could listen. For a price have your picture taken with a python draped around your neck, a monkey in your lap.

Yes, mesmerize & enthrall are words that come to mind for Marrakech, at least for the medina & the great lively square with its greater abundance: roasting meats, pressed oranges & grapefruits, horses’ hooves on the cobbles, donkey carts, the instruments, the singing & clapping, the shuffling dances, the hawking, the hustle, & the colors, orange, red, blue, the rose-colored walls…

Mesmerize & enthrall–verbs of course but also nouns, states of being…

 

In Ben Guerir we bring Mary’s friend some shoes from the U.S. & are treated to a lavish tea: Moroccan mint tea, pastries, almonds, two kinds of bread with olive oil pressed from the olives in the family’s orchard, almond butter, honey, more Moroccan tea, this one with thyme.

Mary’s friend Abdulladeem speaks & writes five languages…

& he & his family practice a sixth—hospitality—a language consisting of food & drink, an atmosphere of welcome, a warm color like orange.

While we ate & talked with Abdulladeem, his mother joined us, sitting beside me, urging me with hand signals to eat more, eat more. Then she turned to me, holding her own breast in a gesture that felt somehow familiar & pointing to mine.

Turns out she wanted to know if I was breastfeeding, or was going to be breastfeeding. If so, she thought I should be eating more. I said, laughing, that I was too old, but that, yes, I had breastfed my sons, a long time ago. Her son translated this–& she was satisfied, nodding, a smile flitting about her more serious lips.

Mary, who has been in Morocco since late August, speaks a mixture of English, French, hand signals & a smattering of Arabic to facilitate our movements, our purchases, our encounters. She dives right in with the cab drivers, merchants, servers, and also with her neighbors in Ben Guerir who do the same.

Now, the relative calm of Essaouira, the “windy city” where all day gulls circle over the fishing docks & at night fly in & out of lamp-light, their high-pitched queries & calls. Outside my blue-shuttered window this morning men talk & I experience the language—Darija—as being written on the air in wavy lines, in scrolls & dots, yet somehow three-dimensional, breathing.

Very near, when it is still dark, but perceptibly lighter in the east than in the west, comes the day’s first call to prayer, which my dreamscapes seem to have embraced, an accompaniment. I wake, but just perceptibly, like the light, & feel curiously carried back into sleep on the boat made of words I don’t understand in the least, except that they are earnest & reverent & colored, for me, the blue of curtains, wind-spun.

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There is something loose here, light, fresh & open, despite or because of the crumbling walls, the patterned tiles & maze-like streets. It has to do with oranges in the marketplace, blue shutters thrown open to morning, the call to prayer whose timbres disintegrate in the air, the narrow ways spilling into the bright squares & wider avenues…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1175poetrystreet

Poet. Writer. Curious person. Yurt-dweller. Word enthusiast. Northwesterner. Looking for poetry in some of the usual & many of the unusual places...

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