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We flew to Marrakech one January –

from dark, frosty, early morning Gatwick

to a view of the sun on the snow-topped

Atlas Mountains. Barely six hours from home,

we were in the Souk – ‘La shukran! Non merci!’ –

avoiding the blandishments, noting

the bartering and the credit cards. Relieved,

we emerged into the Jemaa el Fna,

the Marrakech Medina’s vast square,

with water-sellers, jugglers, magicians,

henna tattooists with their sample books,

peddlers of herbal medicines, dancing boys,

acrobats, story-tellers, traders of

mint, dates, olives, kumquats, lemons, cumin,

the ancient start and end of caravans

south and east across the Sahara.


Suddenly, in all that charivari,

you heard a charmer’s flute. ‘Cobras!’ you cried

and rushed unwarily away, me

hurrying after. You stopped – the flute now

out of earshot – only for a macaque

monkey, dressed in a powder blue suit

and a fez, to tap you on the shoulder.


The monkey was chained and the snake, no doubt,

de-fanged but I could not relieve your fear.

Love has its short term limitations.

You were lost and found and lost again

between the monkey and the snake.

Then the plangent notes of the mid-day call

to prayer sang from the city’s seven mosques

and you were found again in sudden beauty.





Note: The poem has subsequently been published at



© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • Tim Ellis
    January 27, 2012

    We were in Marakech a few years ago, although we travelled there the slow way by train through France, Spain & Tangier, so our adjustment to the culture was more gradual. It was strange meeting Brits in the cafes around the Djeema el Fna who had just flown out from the UK that morning. You have captured the atmosphere & magic of this unique place perfectly David.

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