Michal   (Mitak)  Mahgerefteh   ~  Poetry    &   Art 

    Poetry and Fine Art 

Sipping Memories: A Poetic Journal to Morocco

Reviews



"Sipping Memories brews expansive imagery and rich, local vocabulary into a 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. scent of foods and drinks wafts up from the pages, all in 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 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 "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 breath 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 real 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 e very 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.         

 

Sample Poems

Welcome to Maroc!


traveling the Atlas Mountains punctuated

          by patches of green amid blistering

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” 


*Published by Sephardic Foundation Magazine 

copyright©Michal Mahgerefteh

 

At the Cusp of the Medina


from the second floor balcony

          a blaze of glorious red hibiscus  

subtle pink mimosas  yellow jasmine
          and delicate passion flowers
against blinding crimson bougainvillea  

Laila the groundskeeper

          rings her bulbous eyes in kohl

shakes a swarthy complexion while raking

          leaves from the slab of concrete

embellished with blue ceramic tiles  

waking late sleepers to the sound

          of brass bangles dangling on fat wrists

tranquility streaming from a large

          mosaic fountain and Moroccan music

piped from miniature speakers hidden 

 

in the trunks of palm and olive

          snowcapped mountains rise behind
the tall iron gate  meeting the horizon

          in a pinnacle embrace of golden eventide   

I indulge in squares of dark Swiss chocolate

 

light nargila with apple-flavored shisha 

        exhale faces of ancestral ghosts
dancing in the slender streaks of smoke


*Published by Blue Minaret Magazine

 copyright©Michal Mahgerefteh


 

Reminiscing Grandfather Shlomo

 

a vegetable merchant rests by the side

          of the road  short  sturdy  chewing tobacco

face wrapped in a veil of blowing dust  

          agitated from long hard days of work  

offers hamsa charms and fabric bracelets

          strung on leather-like strips  colorful caftans

swinging on rusted wires  ceramic bridal dispensers

          filled with rosewater  surely lost the essence
of fragrance from the intense desert heat  

my daughter might like the traditional

          bottles for her engagement ceremony  

years from now  but alas for traditions   
          nobody observes them anymore 

chuckling as he hands pomegranate sharbat 

he looks like sabagrandfather Shlomo

          a produce merchant I hardly knew   

only his blue beret and handy wooden stick

          to scare fruit thieves remain in memory

softly spoken  often briefly  or hardly ever   

spends his days in solitary  feeding chickens under

          the sweet lemon tree  collects ripe blackberries

scattered on the veranda and weathered wall  

          rarely pauses to say goodbye  here in the land

of ancestors he waves to me in scent and sound

 

*Published by The Writer's Eye Magaziner
copyright©Michal Mahgerefteh