Romance in Marrakech

The air steams as if peeling off a chicken – hot, crisp, and stewing in juice. Like a rainstorm of arrows, spices pierce nostrils drawing blood smelling of cumin and saffron. Narrow streets curl around dusty buildings with doors that blend into the walls, blindfolding my eyes to the joy and pain lying inside. The heat takes on human form with remnants of spirits floating by and leaving a musty smell. Voices pass through, becoming one with, me. Neighborhood cats mew while searching out scraps or a playful toy.

The boy catches me immediately with brown eyes. His brown skin, short hair and polite smile keep my attention glued. He wears a long white shirt and bows graciously while I follow my family behind a door to glimpse the world that would be ours for the next few nights.

A spectacular dance of bright colors and intricate design draw me away. Cool water flows into a pool that sits below the sky seen three floors up. After a welcome of mint tea, my sister and I find our way to the distant and splendid room on the roof. My imagination comes to life thinking of the nights my Dad’s family slept on their roof in Baghdad perhaps not too dissimilar from traditions of people here in Marrakech. The room is perfect.

Later, my sister finds me reading at a table in the sun when she mentions non-chalantly, “That boy who works here was asking me about you.”

Leaning back in my chair, I stare at her curiously. “Really?” I ask, hoping she’s not pulling my leg.

“Yeah. He said he wants to talk to you.” Her right eyebrow raises slightly.

We let out a bit of a chuckle at the circumstance, while my habit of nail biting finds me as I respond, “Hmm… Interesting.”

Surprised and weary of his forward attitude, I am attracted and intrigued to see where these events lead. “I’m gonna go talk to him.” I say as I stand up to go.

Downstairs, I can hear the crackling of food. I peak into a room behind a small window to see an older woman at a stove tossing various fixings with practiced hands and my young man standing off to the side writing down notes in what looked to be a log book. I lean over the counter with folded arms, all cute like the movies. “Hey. My sister said you wanted to talk to me.” I say.

Looking up, he said “Hey. I did,” a knowing smile appearing, “How are you?”

“Good good.” Keeping my smile and pose perfect. “And you?”

“You know, just working.” Putting down the pen, he walks closer. “Do you want to hang out tonight? I can’t right now.”

I sense the sexual tension between us, sending warnings to my mind. He’s cute and I am definitely craving some new conversation. Encouraged by his pleasant demeanor, I decide to give it a shot. “When you get off?”

“Around ten. Want to meet on the roof?” He says, keeping composure as we plan our rendez-vous.

“Sounds good to me.” I pull away, give a slight wave, and move to the stairs in search of a family member to chat with.


As night settles into the cityscape, we sit on cushions pushed together in the roof’s corner, to curl up and chat under the stars. He’s the youngest of all his mother’s children, with high hopes for the future. I barely remember anything else, and I surely don’t know what I told him. I remember that I like his scraggly dark brown hair and brown sugar skin. I remember his smile made me feel butterflies in my stomach and wanted nothing more than to touch his face. When not losing myself in his image and my own butterflies, I wonder: Was this boy’s life at all similar to my Dad’s? If I’d spent more time here, would I be more like him? Would I see myself, as I see him?

Then he reaches out and touches my hand. Our fingers laced together, I could feel his warmth seep into my skin. My body increasingly aches for his and in the moment I swallow down the failed affairs of years past. We kiss and touch. Both excited, we move very fast, but soon my mind starts to shout at me – “What are you doing!? Bad idea, Bad idea. Stop now while you can! Say NO. Say it! You know you can!” Continuing to shout, my body continues forward – enticing, wanting, and loving the infatuation.

I manage to blurt out “You know I’m not that kind of American girl.” But my flirty attitude and stereotypical phrase does nothing but urge him and me on despite the words.

Eventually some of the message gets across and he slows down, letting us curl into each other’s bodies without a need for anything else. But the need and desire for more rises again as he inches his hands around my waist. I imagine he may think he could have sex with me without my having to notice – kind of like the spy tactics of 007. Like any good spy movie, the party to be conquered plays into the scheme. It’s not at all unique. He moves on top of me and the next segment of time becomes a dramatic back and forth.

“I don’t want to do that. Please stop.” Sometimes the words cause him to slow down, allowing us a gentle moment of quiet closeness, until the mission starts up again. Sometimes the words fall on deaf ears as he continues to push into me – my body still responding to his. I have lost the ability to control it – my mind and voice are the only piece that holds onto reality, to rationality. For a moment I let myself hope that sex with him may be different, I might enjoy it. But the memories of sex with men almost always leaving me feeling degraded, worthless, and the sense that my body was just plain wrong, urged my voice to continue. “No. No.” I start to push him away, but he keeps going. I try hard to assert myself. But eventually I am tired, and allow him to enter me. It feels no different from before, except this time I can’t pretend that I enjoyed it. I can’t snuggle into my own sexual confidence, because I knew that I had been overpowered.

Afterwards, he held me for a moment in the curled position I had only moments before enjoyed. I tell him, “I’m going to go to bed.” He encourages me to stay, but ultimately puts up little fight. I walk across the roof to my room, curl up in my bed, push the night out of my mind, and fall asleep. The next morning, I tell my sister what happened. She tells me it’s not my fault. I respond “I know.”

I am polite to him for the rest of my time in Marrakesh but we never talk again. We trade email and facebook when I leave, but I have ignored his few attempts to make contact. I do look at his pictures though and I can’t say I hate him, although I wish I could.

A punctuated rhythm
Pulses, pierces, and prickles
The space between my legs.

Hard flesh stretches
From dense hairs
As hips circle and urge
Rivers to rise up.

Tip sensitive and supple
Sending sensations to the groin
As rapids pound with excitement.

Twisting into each other
Boring deep crevices
Until the floor drops out
Desire crumples
And then nothing.