The one with glowing eyes
I fell in love with a woman in Marrakech.
She was smokeless fire and a feline soul.
She hovered above the floor,
Offering to grant all my wishes
As I watched her slowly transform.
She had glowing eyes
And a perfumed voice,
Each word a spell of petals and promises.
Some people carry amulets
To ward her kind away.
Evil eyes and incantations,
Superstition held tight to their breasts,
Just to avoid
She really is that powerful.
I should be careful,
Instead, I’m excited.
Holly Payne-Strange is a novelist, poet and podcaster. Her writing has been described as “genuinely captivating” by LA Weekly and “ profound and sincerely engaging” by USA Today. She was also a writer for Fireside Mystery Theater, which The New York Times called “One of the top ten podcasts to bring drama into your home”. Her next novel, “All Of Us Alone,” will be a recommended read for Women Writers, Women’s Books. Her poetry has been published by various groups, including Door Is A Jar magazine, In Parenthesis, Dipity Magazine, and will soon be featured in Academy Heart, among others.
Backstory: This poem was inspired by my wife. When we met, she identified as male, her assigned gender at birth. Her transformation was over a long period of time, but while we were in Marrakesh, she grew in a very profound way. To me, this is a very mysterious, almost magical process that she’s going through, so it felt fitting to explore the theme using speculative poetry.
While I have written much more overt poetry about her gender expression, I like pieces like such as this one, where the theme is not as obvious. I think the beauty of poetry is that it is interpretive. I don’t need anyone else to have the same experience of it as she and I do. This poem itself has undergone a lot of transformations, including different versions and inspiring entirely different poems.
Editor’s Notes: It is hard to hear/read the word Marrakesh and not think of the song “Marrakesh Express” by Crosby, Stills & Nash, and though silly in parts [from Nash’s true travel experiences during a Moroccan vacation he took in 1966; on the trip, Nash traveled by train from Casablanca to Marrakesh] it has a hint of romance linking with the title of the poem, especially in the opening lines: Looking at the world/Through the sunset in your eyes/Trying to make the train/Through clear Moroccan skies. The full lyrics are found here: https://www.streetdirectory.com/lyricadvisor/song/lupcu/marrakesh_express/
But because it is the holiday season, the Arabian nights bring an added nuance, and therefore, the image I have chosen.
Image Credit: Arabian night near Christmas/Epiphany [peakpx]