Zohra El Fassia by Erez Bitton

by tsipi keller

Zohra El Fassia

a singer at the court of King Muhammad the Fifth in Rabat, Morocco.

It is said that when she sang

soldiers drew knives

to push through the crowds

and touch the hem of her dress

kiss her fingertips

express their thanks with a rial coin.

Zohra El Fassia.

These days she can be found in Ashkelon,

in the poor section of Atikot C,

near the welfare office,

the odor of leftover sardine tins

on a wobbly three-legged table,

splendid kingly rugs stacked on a Jewish Agency bed,

and she, clad in a fading housecoat,

lingers for hours before the mirror

wearing cheap makeup,

and when she says: “Muhammad the Fifth, apple of our eyes”

it takes a moment before you understand.

Zohra El Fassia has a husky voice,

a pure heart, and eyes

awash with love.

Zohra El Fassia.