Marrakesh, a Visual Tour with Haiku Anecdotes and Explanatory Footnotes

Since my last post was so long-winded, I figured I’d go in the opposite direction with this one…

At the end of March
I met my dear grandparents
down in Marrakesh1

We had orange juice
for breakfast every morning
It was delicious2

Lunch at a café
recommended by my friend
and very purple3

They both exited
into sunlight, their figures
dark against the door4

Heat in the main square
radiated off a man
in red, who strode on5

We walked through the souks
dark with shadows but light in
the eyes of merchants6

The streets are filled with
scooters and people just step
aside as they pass.7

It rained each evening,
which didn’t stop the scooters
that slipped through the night

I saw the garden
of Yves Saint-Laurent, a famed
designer of plants8

This small bee, employed
for flower upkeep, inspects
each blossom closely9

We found ourselves in
a cathedral of cacti
stretched above our heads

I imagined some
as extraterrestrial
imports from Venus

The garden made my
grandparents smile and then I
snapped a quick photo

Grandma’s lunch: penne
with aubergine, a fancy
French word for eggplant

Mine: fresh tomato
buffalo mozzarella
fresh pesto drizzle

Homemade pastilla
for you-know-who, who ate it
with relish and fork

On to Ben Youssef
Madrasa, scholars replaced
with tourists by now10

Each tile in its place
like the veins of a new leaf
glowing in the sun

A woman crosses
my photo, her reflection
in water and lens

Once a student sat
here, writing verse in patterned
window light, alone

This park was supposed
to have frolicking salmon
but it was too dry

The largest Jewish
population in the town
lies under this ground11

Children tried to lead
us to the synagogue, but
we found it ourselves12

  1. I did not arrive via donkey cart; rather, I missed my train and took an all-night bus from Tangier, befriending two Marrakshi girls along the way. []
  2. I had two cups, fresh squeezed. []
  3. We ate harira and halwa chebakia; practicing for Ramadan. []
  4. And paused to wait for me. []
  5. If he had known that I was taking his picture, he would have turned around and demanded money. Nothing is free in Marrakesh. []
  6. A scarf-seller went through four price changes with me after I revealed that I live in Morocco and know what things cost. Despite this, I’m certain he still made a huge profit. []
  7. I rode one myself to the train station with a friend. Traffic patterns in Morocco are a unique experience and require a mental balance between vigilance and trust. []
  8. He also designed clothes in his spare time. []
  9. He refused to turn around and pose for a photo. Being camera-shy myself, I could empathize. []
  10. Ben Youssef Madrasa was, at one time, one of the largest Islamic colleges in North Africa. It is famous for its intricate carvings and tilework. []
  11. In the Mellah district. Marrakesh once had a huge Jewish community, but most emigrated to Israel decades ago. Local families still maintain the grounds. “Mellah” means “salt” in Arabic and Hebrew. []
  12. A surprising number of children in Marrakesh employ the “guess where the tourists are going and walk just slightly ahead of them, then demand money when they reach their destination” trick. I was not impressed. []

3 Responses

  • All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense — for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort.

  • A bright mem’ry book
    In a word-and-picture stack
    She brings it all back:

    “Cumin to my souk,”
    Said You-Know-Houk
    “Buy a leather boot
    A wallet, a scarf
    Or ras el hanout.”

    But could Marrakesh
    Be in a harira stew
    Over such haiku?

    No, it’s so well priced
    A bargain beyond compare
    Try to outbid free.

Leave a Comment!