JOURNEY TO DAR EL MA: A LOVE POEM BY KRISTIN BARNETT AND PETE KOUFOS, PART 3

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The ride to Meknes is lively. We can’t stop laughing. Menna loves you and laughs along with us. Everyone loves you and I love you all the more for it―the unquantifiable experienced in every gesture, every wave in your show of love and affection toward me and everyone else.

The unbearable embroidered sweetening of every moment with you forces my eyes shut. I gotta breathe, baby. Menna is more anxious to bring us to Volubilis than we are to see it.

We stop in Khemisset, pass the Baraq Mosque and get something cool to drink at Hôtel Diouri. Menna explains that we’re half way to the archeological site. I want to surprise you, and when you excuse yourself to use the ladies room, I ask him to take us first to Dar El Ma. He smiles and says yes, yes and nods. He knows something I don’t.

We walk among the lattice of archways. Meknes has been a pleasant surprise for us both. And you know damn well that’s an understatement. I was so cautious about Fez, but here, we find another experience, a district with a charm all its own, more easygoing than Marrakesh.

Our astonishment with the beauty of this place seems to have inspired Menna who waxes poetical. I was right―linear time is an illusion and in Dar El Ma and Volubilis we are existing within our own temporal poem.

This is not a ruin for us, there is more than past and present. We’re here, holistically, with a new assumption about time. Temporality reflects on our own lived experience.

Our experience of mind, body, spirit and consciousness exists within and through our having a relationship with time. There is no separation between free will and determinism, mind and body, loss and restoration, but rather a connectedness between these things.

Menna brought these places back to life for us with his vivid sketches of Roman life. He took us through poorer areas of the town where men worked on the stone presses to produce virgin olive oil by day and stopped as darkness shadowed them and they visited the brothels by night.

We sit in the shadow of a solitary arch to rest and drink. You promise me a shower rub down and couscous for dinner. It’s a quiet ride back. But we’re not tired from our long day, and the usual likelihood of me being overstimulated like a boy. We’re reflective, carefree and delighted. We don’t even notice the almost 2-hour drive back home. -PK

We arrive back into town as the 8pm sun sets. The streets are still alive with the day’s activities, but people appear to morph into effortless beings of the night as the cool breeze lowers the outdoor temperature 10 more degrees. 

I had gone to the market that morning, unbeknown to you, and had all of the ingredients ready for the couscous I promised you for dinner. You give me that look, the look I see when I close my eyes and think about  our times together. The times when we couldn’t wait any longer, couldn’t take the distance any longer. You look at me like there is something missing from your being―at this point, unsure if it’s mind or body―and it can only be found inside of me, where only you know to look. 

The surprises of the day fill my thoughts. 

After all this time, I still can’t believe what you put into our adventures, so many times―such love, such devotion. I want to keep you feeling the same. I wear that kimono. The one I bought in the vintage store in Amsterdam. The one I sent you pictures of. The one you ripped off of me when we spent that delirious week together back in February 2016. 

You hadn’t seen it in awhile. Had thought about it, but put it in the back of your mind as if to surprise yourself with it later. It worked. Your heart fills with joy, your mind with memories. When it’s time for that shower rub down I promised, you know by the sight of steam billowing out of our bathroom and into the hallway where we’ve found ourselves entangled many times. -KB

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