Christina_medina roofs
Photo of the Fez Medina by Christina Ammon

Deep Travel is busy assembling an anthology of work by our wonderful workshop alumni.  We are excited to share some of the work here on our blog, starting with this beautiful vignette by Libby Chaney, who joined us on our trip to Morocco last month. You’ll be able to read this and work by over 40 contributors in the finished anthology in August. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, enjoy….

Morocco, Home, and Heaven

Libby Chaney

Chickens caught in a small wooden cage, climbing over each other, flapping, squawking. They are screaming, really. As the butcher watches us walk by, he’s blithely pulling the guts from a carcass. He’s easily within earshot of the chickens in the cage.

I love chicken tagine with lemon and olives. I cannot hear the chicken scream.

I don’t feel the hands of the chicken gutter on my guts.

I hear two men arguing in Arabic, their language like a shaking bag of rocks. And then a laugh and slaps on the sleeves of wool. And they walk in opposite directions, still laughing.

I smell peas cooking on a tiny clay chimney in a tin pie tin.  Three men sit down around the little red fire for the little green peas, smiling, smiling, smiling.

The seller selling honey cookies relaxes in his stall with the bees. Bees are doing research on the cookies. We all know full well why.

I like preserved lemons: the color, the taste of sunlight—bitter, soft and soaked with juice and olives with their oil.

I like to brush my teeth without wondering if the water’s safe. When that faucet’s water’s in my mouth alone, like a river I am swimming in, I wonder if I’ll die from it, or just get a little sick, or if my minty toothpaste is discouragement enough for germs.

I slowly put one old foot over one damaged knee, going up, already worried about coming down. Blue and white tile patterns on the stairs—a distraction from my grief.

Back home on a sunny deck in Cleveland now, the air would be too cold to enjoy the wind. I could tell myself to stay in Fez, except for the bulbs pushing up by my door.

Afternoon walking in the medina from light into darkness and back again. The walls are sometimes blue, then pink along the way, but from above they look like sand.

Our dog Raisa would love the call to worship. Five times a day she would sing along, reminding us to contact our creator.

I love the slightly open door, and I am not afraid to look inside, like the sight of lace inside a woman’s blouse.

“I want to taste your money” the seller murmurs—he is so romantic!

“What’s your best price?” another demands, blocking our exit from his shop.

You get lots of knots in burl wood; it grows under earth above the roots, below the stem

You can choose loblolly pine or the lemon, too, for different reasons. All good.

Farmers arrange piles of carrots next to herbs in our farmers’ markets, like here in the souk. We eat the same food, preparing differently.

And we have doors and windows, but none like these. Not in Home Depot, anyway.

These doors let you know you’re entering something other than a place and show you what shape you are. I think they point toward heaven.

I see some people with tragic feet wearing plastic slippers on the street. One ankle turned like a burl. One foot turned toward the sky, but walking.

Three little boys. It’s late at night, sitting on a doorstep in the market, laughing, laughing, laughing.

Donkeys loaded with our heavy bags of pleasant clothes and toothbrushes, choose their way up the stairs.

Back home, Donna’s disease had come with a visa for either heaven or for hell. She visited hell for a while at the doctors. When her children came, she took the first flight out. Through a window in a gown, I think. She sent me a message in my dream, in the midst of my own, much smaller adventure in Fez. “Arrived safely!” she said.


LIBBY CHANEY is an artist. She was born, raised and educated in Ohio.  In the 1960s, when she was in her twenties, she wandered off to California, where she inadvertently lived for 47 years. She taught there, traveled a bit, married and had two children. After her son suddenly died, she was drawn back to her Ohio at Lake Erie. She now lives in a sunlit studio, able to work as an artist every single day with her third and final husband, Paul Waszink, and a cat named Charles.

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