It happens when I tell a story

It happens when I tell a story.

For the lady sitting in the kitchen, cleaning green peas from the pods, my stories make her smile. As she listens to me, she distinctly recalls her first kiss and that first embrace so many years ago. I can tell by the gentle way she leans on the side as she reaches for the pods. As the mountain of peas grows, a discreet smile paints itself on her thin lips, expressing secret longings. As they open slightly, they release a soft sigh that I feel had been kept inside for a very long time. She looks up at me. She is silent and yet, I can read countless stories in her eyes.

For the children sitting in a circle, some leaning against each other and others looking at their toes, my stories fill them with wonder. They listen and see me gesticulate and exaggerate, and suddenly they are transported to the desert where the immense night sky is filled with countless stars. Some, they tell me, can even hear the gentle “cling clang” of the wooden bells baby camels wear. And when they leave the circle, the setting of their play has expanded infinitively.

For the man sitting next to me in the bus, my stories open his heart. He tells me how he felt when his first child was born, and when his second one died at just nine days old. He tells me with his eyes shining with tears, that his most precious desire in life is not to have a mansion, but to hold his son in his arms just one more time. He continues to talk and this time, I listen.

All this happens when I tell a story.

I like to tell stories. Maybe it is because I carry in my Arab blood the millenary tradition of telling stories and reciting poetry; or maybe, it is simply because I love to share and colour things around me.

Why don’t you try it one day? Tell stories to strangers and you will see how their eyes will shine and smiles will faintly trace memories and dreams on their lips. Open your heart and other hearts will open.

It happens to me all the time. Such a precious gift to give and to receive, don’t you think?

Now and again, some people may not want to listen or partake. That is fine of course. I then write my stories down, often in the form of a poem, and come here to share and colour the world.

Thank you for reading.

Kenza.

Sound

The world is filled with so much noise.

I am not talking about the limpid note of the Ney
nor the melodies of the nightingale falling in love with the rose.
Those – I hear in poems.

I am talking about the strident sounds of war and destruction,
the ones that deafen me beyond the silence of the screen.

These sounds are thick and tainted with green,
the dirty green of shame.
And no matter how much I try to shield my heart,
they penetrate me to the bone.

So what am I to do?

Of course I want to fill the world with the sounds of laughter
and look above the clouds and under the tables of elegant ladies.

Of course I want to love. Really love.
Love the man at the corner bent like a half burnt candle
and the little girl calling with her deep dark eyes in the mists of rubble.

And I want to kiss. Really kiss. With tenderness.
Like a child holding a seashell in the palm of his hand.

And I want to share. Share everything.
Melting butter on warm bread,
the smile of my son as he falls asleep,
and the immense sky above my house.

I want to trace with my fingers the scent of jasmine
then gently caress my wounds and the ones of the world.

And then maybe, just maybe,
the warmongers will stop and
silence will no longer deafen
becoming the soothing one so many poets write about.

Kenza.

The village of my heart went up in flames

All that is left around me is an empty field covered with dust. The village of my heart went up in flames. It burned all my emotions and all my longings. One by one, they were destroyed in the fire. The flames never burned me, yet turned all that I was into ashes.

That was then.

This is now.

I walk on the grey soil, soft like a Kashmiri carpet. I see the desolation and I see the joy. All is gone and I am left utterly empty, empty of all that weighted me down. My steps are so light, I leave no marks nor lift any dust. There is silence, a vast silent emptiness.

A smile dries my tears and then I see a touch of green amidts the grey, bright like an emerald emitting its own light. I can smell the aroma of rebirth, that mix of grass and soil and water. Life is coming back to the burned village of my heart. Gently I caress the grass blades that do not cut. Gently I get up and continue walking out of the burnt down village and onto the open road.

The sky above me, that divine cup turned upside down with no end and no angle, is now my only guide.

Kenza.

On my way to the boulangerie

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Mama! What did you see on the way to the boulangerie?

When I went out of the house early this morning to go to the Boulangerie, the mist was so thick I could not even see the end of my toes! But let me tell you what I could see as I walked really fast to avoid my ear tips from freezing.

As I walked by the vegetable and fruit market, I saw birds gathering around our friend. You know, the giant man with the large belly who always wears those bright green sweaters. He was giving them bread. The birds looked so hungry. Some were eating right out of his generous hand!

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As I rounded the corner towards the Boulangerie, I saw a lady with a large hat full of multi-coloured feathers being pulled by a rather funny looking dog. He was in a good mood and as I approached them, he wrapped himself around my legs. “I am so sorry!” the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat told me with a smile. “It is my son’s dog. His name is “gato” as in “gâteau” cake in French.” “It is fine,” I said as I tried to unentangle myself from the dog’s happy embrace. “It is a bit confusing for Mexicans,” she added as the dog pulled her forcefully away. Well, confusing for the dog as well, I thought.

At the boulangerie, I saw our friend Claude, the Chef Boulanger. He said “Bonjour! Comment va le petit?” Claude is always so nice!

But the cashier was grumpy. I wanted to make her smile by telling her about the big man feeding the birds and the lady with the multi-coloured feathered hat and the dog named “gato,” but I hesitated. So I just gave her an immense smile. That made me look rather silly, but I did not mind. Yet, grumpy she remained. Maybe I should have told her about the man and the feathered lady and the confused happy dog. I should have known better.

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As I headed back home with my bag filled with fresh from the oven petits pains au chocolat, croissants and a baguette, I saw the morning mist gently rise above the tall pink church tower. It looked magnificent and I must say that San Miguel, perched high with his wings and staff, looked absolutely dashing! A pigeon was eying him though, and I am afraid he was about to fly and land on his head, taking away some of his aplomb.

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More pigeons greeted me as I made my way back home. Two of them were busy gossiping while warming up in the early morning sun on their balcony. You know the one near the yellow and red church, right above the rendez-vous place of young secret lovers. I am certain they were exchanging stories about the latest ones to have promised to love each other for eternity, as it always happens right there, under their balcony away from the pry of onlookers, and parents.

And finally, as I turned into our little street, I looked ahead hoping to see you at the window and I did! I was so happy! That was the best thing I saw on my way to the boulangerie.

A day in Paris

“Mama, what do we do today?”

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We walk. We look at the clouds. Watch leaves falling like books in the air. Old manuscripts. The smell of ink. Dust and sun in our eyes.

The sky immense and blue. “Let’s take a piece and put it in our pockets,” I say, “you know for later when we are far away.”

We watch milk twirl in your first ever decaf cappuccino! On the side, a round crêpe like a full moon, folded to match the clouds.

The metro filled with ants, all heads down. We dance a few steps on the platform as we wait for the train. An old man looks at us, and smiles. Just like the one who plays the violin at the entrance. We listen to his notes.

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Run through empty arches. A man stands by a window, reading a book. Perhaps from the pages we saw flying earlier in the park.

Walk behind pigeons imitating them, back side waddling. Play. Stop. And play some more. And laugh.

Dance along small streets. You are always dancing.

And talk. Talk about a book and Japan and chocolate at the window, starting every sentence with “can I tell you something?” Buildings measured against Tsunami waves, a graffiti on the wall, the lady with a dog at the light, the day you rode your bike for the first time. Intarissable…

Imagination free, the instant takes flight always further and yet always present.

And I answer when I can. My thoughts are too real, too material so I discard them. I decide to join in your blabber and then I see the light and the dust. My eyes now guide me instead of my heavy thoughts. I jump from colours to sensations, just like you!

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Art in gallery windows and the gentle smile of ladies in Chanel. More art. Beautiful art. Time stops as we stroll gently through the empty museum. Now you are glad we woke up so early.

Outside the boulangerie, we spot a small bulldog wondering what he is doing in a dog’s body. Another one closer to the fountain, watches pigeons fly wishing he could join them. Or may be not. It may just be our interpretation.

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A giant advertisement for an anti-winkle cream that promises youth as though the heart could heal so easily, returns me to absurdity. And then I let it go.

And the man looking at the void. A homeless from a far way land who then looks up at you and gives you a generous smile, “I have nothing,” he seems to tell you, “only a smile.” And you answer in kind, and you both smile and hope seems to rise even if ephemeral. “What a nice man,” you tell me as you skip down the boulevard.

And then you stop and come back to me. “I wish the entire world was soft and clean.” And I wish that as well. So I kiss you as we stand in the middle of the pavement. Smiles from others. A soft and clean world, even if for an instant. And I wish for it to expands.

IMG_E1725Éclair au chocolat, the best ever! Everything for you is the best ever at that very moment. I admit though, the ones from La Maison du Chocolat are the best ever!

“This is the best day of my life,” you say as the day ends. Of course it is! You always say that. We should all be saying that.