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   Michal  Mahgerefteh

                                                    Poetry and Art                                                                                                      

Sipping Memories
A Poetic Journal to Morocco
(second edition 2021)


In 2010,  my husband and I
took a tour of Morocco, celebrating
our 20th wedding anniversary.  

My both parents immigrated 
to Israel in the late 50s, leaving
behind 2000 years of Jewish legacy.

This collection is a visual expression -
honoring country, family, and culture
 in a poetic verse. 


Welcome to Maroc!


traveling the Atlas Mountains punctuated

by patches of green amid blistered

rocky terrain and brooding silence


afternoon sun pours its last brilliance

over central Rabat frowning somber

faces beneath black chador walking


the crowded alleys of the medina

we stop for a short break on the side

of a busy street thick with ripe dates and figs


approached by a short husky woman

flashing gold teeth offers fresh round

bread topped with pecan butter


almond cookies and cold squeezed lemonade

we sit on stools draped in colorful textile

smoke narghile and drink earthy qahwah


every sip and bite followed by a thankful

smile and repeated cheerful blessings

“Bruch Bikum eMaroc!—Welcome to Morocco” 


Copyright by Michal Mahgerefteh

Merchant by the Side
of the Road


a stream of cigarette smoke

swirls around this elderly merchant

Santa’s cap on his balding head twirls

of white hair on a deeply tanned chin

small brown moles on upper cheeks


he stands in silence under a pool

of fly-infested sunlight glances

at women lustfully offers pomegranate

tea in chipped ceramic glasses

beghrir pancake and pastilla pie bites


not enough to quench my thirst

I place both hands over my brow

shading eyes from the salty mist

blowing from the Atlantic circling

our group and the man’s raggedy cart


I ask for a large squeezed lemonade

but like the Grinch mouth clinches

shut hands tight behind his back

gives a dismissive gesture as we all

politely walk from his spit curses 


Copyright by Michal Mahgerefteh

The Bazaar
at Walled Mellah


in a heavy coat   I stand against

the chill of mid-March black umbrella

shielding from persistent drizzle


I make my way down a path

of weathered white walls   men

in front of wood fire grill selling


roasted chestnuts for pennies

entering the busy bazaar I recall

this place its history    my people


lived in Walled Mellah for over

two thousand years    spoke Aramaic

bolted David's Shield on every entrance door


my pulsing heart feels the stones

fermenting in silence    tailors    carpenters

leather makers clung as a community


stumbled over fragmented scrolls

haunted by the Evil Eye    their tantalizing

scents cut through the damp air in a rhythmic cry


tonight   I will eat a solitary meal of couscous

with bare hands as I did as a child    gulp

tea with honey     swallow embers of memory 


Copyright Michal Mahgerefteh

Reviews

"Sipping Memories brews expansive imagery and rich, local vocabulary into deep and loving geography of recollection. Mahgerefteh mixes past and present, not only on a personal level but also on a historical-cultural one as well. permits the reader to travel with her, portraying the best aspects of a poetic tour guide. The scent of foods and drinks wafts up from the pages, all in the context of travels, bazaars, and religion. Without being didactic, the poet offers a lasting "ember of memory" to the reader like a cup of warmth at a significant archaeological dig."

---Daniel Pravda, English Professor at Norfolk State University

Author of A Bird in the Hand Is a Dumb Bird

"Even to a reader who has never been to Morocco, its landscape and people come to life in these vivid recollections of the poet. In the poem, The Bazaar at Walled Mellah, we catch a glimpse of [a] bolted David's Shield on every entrance door, and like the poet, we experience [our] pulsing heart feels the stones fermenting/ in silence. In her new chapbook, Michal Mahgerefteh succeeds in transmitting her poetic journey and shares her visual and sensual impressions of this picturesque and exotic North African country." 

---Dina Ripsman Eylon, Editor-in-Chief

Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal

"This chapbook is awash in the flavors and textures of Morocco. The poet takes us on the journey with her and we get not only the taste and colors of this country, but we find that the choice of language brings its rhythm to us as well. Sipping Memories, A Poetic Journey to Morocco is for us, the readers, as emotion-warming as the mint tea the poet savors throughout this trip. Who does not want to be "On the Road to Marrakesh," as the poet wanders near the food carts in a meadow stopping to pet the horse that has drawn the cart where fresh mint tea is offered to her. We taste with this poet the tea she drinks up and feel with her, "the surprising ache of the desert." In the "Henna Artist," we want it to be our hands that get the "Berber designs framing nails and fingers," as the artist tells the poet that "fish is for prosperity and lion's paw for strength." We find ourselves saying, "Of course, of course." When we are taken to "The Hammam," the poet cannot stop herself as she takes her notebook and "sketches footprints of ancestral mothers." And it is here that we find out what this journey is about for the poet. She is going home to breathe in her ancestors. She is finding the rhythm of their life and melding it into hers, and we are privileged to be on this journey with her. This chapbook invites us all to savor the lushness of the poet’s ancestral landscape in language that is rich and full of the everyday experiences of the people in Morocco. Every color, every scent, every ritual that surrounds the poet while she is making this journey is here. Read this chapbook quietly and carefully.. sipping warm mint tea."

---Nancy Powell

Past President of The Poetry Society of Virginia

author of "How Far is Ordinary"

****GOODREADS Review

Picked up a delightful little collection of poems today & read through it this evening. The title of the book holds true, and the poems do in fact really like a journal being kept on a trip through Morocco. All of the poems are wonderfully visual and hit all the senses, painting lovely pictures of different aspects of Moroccan culture from the busy Bazaars, to beggars on the street, a wedding, a bit of nature, and some of the religious sites. All the poems a every similar in structure, and it helps tie them all together in a lovely complete package of a collection. Very enjoyable. Out of the entries, my favorite poems were: "At The Cusp of the Medina", "The Bazaar at Walled Mellah", "The Sheep Market" (I love sheep in general, so this one was just fun to find), and "The Fabric Market" - Though they were all quite good. I highly recommend it, if you're looking to take a quick trip to Morocco without leaving home.

Acknowledgments

Some of the poems in this collection

have previously appeared in the following

magazines, periodicals, and anthologies,

whose publishers and editors I thank.

On occasion, poems have been further

revised, or titles changed, since their

original publication:


Austin Poetry Society
Place Award, 1st Place

“The Bazaar at Walled Mellah”


Blue Minaret Magazine

“At the Cusp of the Medina”

“Desert Dwellers”

“Merchant by the Side of the Road”


Mediterranean Magazine (Sweden)

“Es Saade Restaurant”

“The Sheep Market”


Scribbler on the Roof Magazine

“Barceló Hotel”

“On the Road to Marrakesh”

“The Henna Artist”


Sephardic Heritage Foundation

“Afternoon Reflection”

“The Fabric Market”


The Ilanot Review (Israel)

“Last Day in Marrakesh”

“The Shuk in Rabat”


The Writer’s Eye Magazine

“Reminiscing Grandfather Shlomo” 


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"Sipping Memories" Collection.


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