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The textile civilisation : a semi-autobiographial poem

written by Assya Hamdani

illustrated by Lizzy Nightingale

Le monde est un amas de linge 1
Michel Serres
I come from a people whose god is a veil
Whose lives are ruled by a cluster of clothes.
A world where hijab means curtain.
A people whose Book denies any chronological order.
A people full of interpolations.
A people made of wool and fabric.

Le monde est un amas de linge

Where a stained sheet is always good news
A people whose last prophet, Al Muddathir,
The man wearing a cloak
Alarmed by a divine Revelation,
Concealed his face behind a coat.
A people who lost the meaning of the veil
And turned it into a wall. Then searched for it in vain.
A people whose tents were ripped.

Le monde est un amas de linge

There were los Andaluces
Pero lucharon contra los Moros
Rumba la rumba la rumba la

Add another layer and
There were the Berbers, the Romans, the Arabs, the Tuaregs
and green and black and white and sand and I’ve never pretended to be a historian

Le monde est un amas de linge
Le monde est un amas de linge.

Who am I fooling?
I do not know my parents’ people.
They forgot their veils and turned them into cells.
Mine is malleable.
I can extend it as I wish
It’s erasing la mancilla.
I will learn their veil and teach it
I will cure my bruises and repair their shame.
My red badge of shamelessness.

1 The world is a cluster of clothes
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