Charabanc to Marrakesh, by Bob Spencer

This poem, by Society member Bob Spencer, was selected for Folio #74, published in 2020.

Charabanc to Marrakesh

I could have gone by ’plane.
A few days would have seen me
in the mud brick house
of the camel rustler
and his hidden woman,
her eyes black lanterns
among the bright cloth.

Instead, I dug a charabanc
out of the mud at Seasalter beach
near Whitstable, where oysters muster
to be frisked for illegal pearls.

Restoration took time.
Five years and forty two days
for rust to gleam, bent to straighten,
flat to inflate and the dead to spark to life.

Then Dover and on to Orleans, Limoges
Toulouse, Zaragoza, Madrid, Cordoba,
the rainbow tanneries of Fez,
Casablanca and finally… Marrakesh.

The city did not disappoint.
The charabanc drew crowds,
the suq emptied,
gold, crimson and emerald cloths,
pungent spices, hand crafted silverware,
all abandoned, left unattended,
just for a view of the shining resurrection
from the Kentish mud.

I found the camel rustler
and lodged in his mud brick house,
a short throw from the walls
of the el-Badi palace.
During the day I polished the charabanc.
In the evenings we ate on the flat roof
under stars spilled over the sky like sherbet
and listened to the palms
dusting their leaves in the faintest of breezes.
At night I thought about his woman
and her eyes that said nothing

and everything.

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