Journey to Dar el Ma: a love poem by Kristin Barnett and Pete Koufos, Part 1


The first time I went to Morocco I was stunned into silence. I was alive. It hit me like a ton of obviousness bricks. Of course you’re alive, genius. But life without moments, without manifestation, without revelation? Come on. And I was stunned.

We’re in Rabat. I’m walking with you, my face a little more a part of the landscape than your gentle redheadedness. I’m aware. Hyperaware. Moroccans are friendly, accepting and inclusive. That’s why I wanted to bring you here. But I still need to be cautious.

And I shoot tight little glances at you. We’re walking hand in hand. I prefer to walk behind you and stare at your ass, but not in an Arab country and not when you walk beside me, pressing close to me. You’re not afraid or anything. I know. I’m like a human monitor―I know your heart rate, skin temp, and respiration. It’s not apprehension on any level. You’re stunned. You’re alive and I recognize the moment, the manifestation, the revelation.

I’m walking you through a watercolor-painting panorama of beautiful doorways embellished with mosaic, passed a clowder of feral cats peering at us from every vantage point, and murals painted by local artists.

William S. Burroughs, from whom I take my pen name Burroughs Kyriakis, had Joan Vollmer Adams. I have Kristin Jamie Barnett. We have Morocco. And do we ever. I’m not sure we’re going to leave. Maybe we’ll go back to Paris and get the remainder of our few belongings, and ship your collectibles back to Modesto.

I feel it in your body―the completely fulfilled recognition that in Morocco we have found an environment in crazed harmony with our temperament, affording no hindrances to pursuing our interests and indulging our vices.

I want to show you something. Every Moroccan quarter has five things―a public oven for baking bread and cooking stew, a Koranic school for the children, a mosque for prayer, a public fountain for drinking and, certainly not least of all, a public hammam for  segregated bathing and socializing. We love the hammam at the hotel. It’s the least worse-for-wear feature in the place, and you never seem to notice or care. Home is wherever we are together. -PK

Hammam is one of our favorite homes. You want to show me what you love about it, but I want to show you what I love about it. The musky smell of rose, eucalyptus, lavender, orange, and sandalwood instantly put my mind at ease and the steam, my body. It’s quiet and dim, nothing but sporadic whispers and candlelight. The warm water room is our favorite. We get to straddle each other and see the light in our peers’ eyes as we hide in the corner of the stone bath. 

The steam room comes in as a close second. The deep breathing we need to do, the sweat that accentuates the curves of our bodies, the obstructed view of everyone else around us. This is one of our favorite meditation spots. It’s a place we look forward to visiting often before making love. 

We exit the side door that opens onto an already dark alleyway. We’d been bathing and meditating for hours, and it was time for our weekly visit to the French restaurant that reminds us of our last home. You order me steak frites and a couple of wines you think I’ll like. I still have a private habit when leaving the house, but only you know that. -KB


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