A few days before I came here I saw a violet poppy. The day before Roz had talked about them. Until that moment I never knew they existed.
Last night I watched the sun set over the Iles from a rooftop recommended by a friend of Harley’s. Bells were ringing from below. Where they calling in the lone wanderers who were roaming the mini Iles to return safely before sunset? I ordered a mint tea that came in a glass covered with purple flowers.
Violet is the body of a woman becalmed. Her skin a thick layer of green grass and golden sand. If you touch her even slightly she turns the deepest violet. The walls of her prison have crumbled and in the gaps grow wild flowers. There are ledges for the rare falcons called Elanora. This Ile was once attached to the land but now she is separate. A force, protecting the mainland from the ravages of the wind.
She watches from her tower. Boats circle but do not moor. To land you need permission, a permit. Still she gazes at the sky. At the exact moment the sun sinks down into the sea a perfect violet line appears and she dissolves.
I arrived bruised but unlike the fish I didn’t die and I won’t be eaten. I have swallowed the violet Ile whole and surrounded it with a glittering white sea.
To visit you will need to peel back layers. To guide you carry in your violet (non plastic bag) a fig, a clove of garlic, a wooden Berber key, green pigment that changes violet with touch and a sardine. Violet is half of violence without the T.
Violet is the warmth of silver worn in the sun. This morning I followed a purple fish down an alley that led to a kaleidoscope of miniature open doors. There I found a kind woman who helped me print my plane ticket. She apologised that her printer was only printing in purple and offered me coffee. I left and followed a wizard carrying a now familiar violet non plastic bag. A woman in purple robes crossed his path. Later I met a Mohammed who had made a textile collage on the medina wall with these same bags. He showed me an invention he had made. A machine to create complex plaits of purple braid. He opened a door for me to a secret place.
I bought a pair of miniature yellow shoes for Rita they did not have them in violet perhaps it is not a colour for the very young?
At the port past the place where stones are broken open and glimmer with violet and the same gold green as the pigment I shook the hand of a small boy who was standing on a bench near a violet shadow. The fish still glisten at the market but there was to much death. I talked to the shell man about his last remaining female Murex shell. He offered me a smaller male shell to for free. I didn’t buy either.
Violet is an island within that needs to be nourished. It’s the sweetness in the softness of a fig. The strength in the taste of garlic and red onions. The addictive bitterness of an unknown fruit extracted gently by an old man at the market. It’s in tea brewed from purple flowers bought wrapped in paper that has already been written on. It’s the ultimate cure, the perfect scent.
Today I went to the shore to see the Iles from there. Just where I met the water at that exact spot was a purple flower part buried in the sand. I sat down by my hand was a small shell heart with violet at its core. Violet ebbs and flows it oscillates. It’s under my skin and as the colour of my skin changes so in away has violet.
Violet is what’s left when you gift everything else to the wind. For awhile I fear I lost it but like Perkin (who discovered synthetic mauve) I am now searching for the next hue. I bumped into Halima in the street today she was off to by flowers from a man called Hassan. His door was locked, no one home. On his street were petals of onion. In his window hung a floral purple cloth. A man in a cap told me that the miniature moustached men holding the shutters open are soldiers. To me they look like they are sleeping, or are they trying to keep us all alive and awake?
Vibrant Violet is activated by touch if you lick the end of your finger and gently stroke the green powder it appears and stains everything. The Poupura is female if you touch murex, the male he turns a blue, green turquoise.
I can see the Iles clearly from the purple table I am sitting at. Something is stuck. Violet can not be here if there is sugar and stress. Ibra tried valiantly to draw it out from my blood to the surface of my skin. It pricked, itched then all was calm. It is close, rasping. To reach it I must succumb. The wind has subsided.
Violet is a polarity stretching from Tyrian to an almost pale grey, separated only by a border of hearts. It hides in the slippery skin of sardines and sting rays. It is a colour of mourning that can be glimpsed but not stilled in Mother of Pearl. The crown is its clothing.
On the Iles Purpuraires are the remains of a roofless prison and a watchtower. The island it is said was impossible to escape. Michel Vu ( age unknown) told me this. He arrived in Essaouira in 1974 an escapee from a different kind of prison. His early paintings are of lone women (one wearing violet carrying Le Chat Blanc), lovers in white and two children, a boy and girl playing in a pond with a red boat.
Every morning he lays among the aloe under a sky that’s not milky but a clear blue. He has found a way to harness the energy of the wind, not be defeated by it. His smooth white creatures rest with him. In a room that is all white and catches the sun he tells me he has been to the Iles.
The sand stung my legs as I walked down the painful purple path to the sea. Everywhere there were stones blushed with bits of bodily purple. Violet is the last colour left in a flower in Michel’s garden as it fades. He is full of magic and mysticism. I think he has seen it. Violet for him is shrouded in eternity but there is no eternity anymore.
Violet is carried by fierce winds. Abdul and others have tried to tame her. To bottle her up and sell her as pigment. The Berbers fish her from the sea and drag her to the desert where they leave her for weeks in the sun till she is nothing but dust. She is life, self and nature protected by a fortress.
Violet is there in the distance, always present but unreachable. Separated from me by wild sea. I have seen her only momentarily, in the soft flesh round the eyes of ‘le chat blanc’ who lives on the rooftop.
I have landed on a bruise, bruised.