On a Sahara Run


Marrakech, Morocco
United States

I remember the tajine in Morocco. Your hand as it passed me a cigarette. My hand as it held yours. Our taxi driver screaming.

“You’re not allowed to do that here.”

A long orange dress, a dusty hot day, a hotel room of our own.

“Mint tea?”

Two Americans in bliss overlooking a busy Marrakech, sun beating down, exhaling.

The Arab Spring blasts on TV, black covers enwrap us. The room is smoke stacked, the call of Allah wailing in the breeze. Perhaps our foreshadowed warship.

Children, run.


He throws a scarf around me. Prepares me for Old Medina.

“You must cover your hair. No man can see you. Hold on tight. We can’t let anyone think they can take you.”

No more are we secure in the walled structure of Ibis. Berber throw pillows, shared hookahs. African pool reflections of setting orange suns.

“Miss miss miss!” “Over here!” “Miss, for the baby?”

A snake appears on my neck. A cameraman yells at me to kiss it. My bag is being searched for food, money, anything to satisfy these merchants.

Little kids run up and down. Their mothers watching close by, following my every move, signaling their children when to attack. My dress is being grabbed, searched, felt up.

“I don’t have anything!” I scream.

“Don’t lose me,” he says.  


On the train, I prop the window. Let in dry heat. Watch giraffes determined to keep up with our speed, go to smoke in the bathroom. A man comes in to share the space. He keeps closing the door. He doesn’t want to get in trouble, but I’d rather not. I push it open and ask him how much longer he thinks the ride will be. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t speak English. We both smile and I go back to sit down with the women who won’t stop giving me dirty looks, but can’t stop feeding me.

I look down at my hands. Black from soot and sun. I Imagine I grab hold of my mother’s, a comfort I so desperately need right now. Play with my rings, trinkets of who I believe I am. More wishniks, more lonely bus rides to kindergarten.

To my left, there are strangers. To my right, I’m alone.

The train halts to a stop. Time falls into one of those things I will remember later on. Dirt settles in the air. The wind whistles, like an eerie foreboding before a storm. I want it to rain, to rain hard and strong. To be wrapped up with dates. Succulent medjool dates. And I want you. On a train to Marrakech. The Sahara passing by.


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