Argan (T)oil

This poem was inspired by a recent trip to Morocco.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” —Aesop

Morocco is a country characterized

by mixtures.

It touches

both the sparkling, bubbly Mediterranean Sea,

and the sweeping, powerful Atlantic Ocean.

The people speak

an overwhelming, confusing jumble of

French and Arabic.

Its people fall

into roughly two ethnic groups:

the Berbers, the native people, built on tradition;

the Arabs, who now call

Africa—not the Arabian Peninsula—their home.

H

i

g

h

in the country, there is

none

of this confusion.

The rural village,

Built

into the hillside and surrounded

by lush foliage, is

Berber through and through.

Climbing      

r      

e   

h

g

i

 h

I reach

The pharmacy, surrounded

By carefully nurtured plants, that houses

All the natural, ancient, Berber remedies.

Inside, I find

The ultimate remedy: argan oil, produced only in Morocco.

Argan oil, which can

cure acne,

mend skin,

vitalize hair.

I see

A woman grinding

The seeds of argan fruit, pressing out

The rare and treasured oil.

Her long brown fingers grasp

A wheel that, when turned, presses

The caramel-colored, fingernail-sized seeds beneath it.

I try working

the wheel.

I feel

The solid wood of it.

I sense

The gritty rubbing between the seeds and the wood.

I watch

As nothing is produced—wait!

There it is, something— that drips

Into the pan below.

The raw oil is

a chocolate brown.

My effort only produces

A tiny drop, that slithers

stealthily away.

All those seeds, all that grinding, all that time—and the result is

Barely visible.

How can the Berber woman have such patience?

To work diligently?

To wait?

To see few results?

The woman smiles.

Her face sags

With age, a reminder of how many years

She has performed

This task.

Her eyes twinkle,

As if trying

To tell me a secret.

And then I realize:

Maybe patience is

Not necessary,

But faith:

The promise to oneself that all will end well,

And that all effort

Or deeds

Or good thoughts

Will come to fruition.

Eventually.

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