When clothes go about their daily life


                       by Tamer Fathi, from Yesterday I lost a button:  the story of clothes, translated from the Egyptian by Maged Zaher


Just like this
clothes get used to the spinning of the washer,
the foam of detergent,
and bleach.

They are left soaking in water
which becomes colored with their sorrows,
their thoughts leak out in the form of white bubbly foam
as they surrender to the detergent that is working hard
at removing their dreams
so they become white
and pure.

They surrender to being wrung out
and hang obediently from the clothes line
to receive the air
the sun
and dust.

They get thrown down with the dirty clothes
they get used to stains
and the sting of the hot iron.

They stare at the new clothes in shop windows.
They smile
and leave.

Undergarments often choose
to be white
and to have their alternate lifestyle/their simple holes,
their ability to hide
and to slowly die
as they suck the blood
from the blisters on people's backs.

It was probably a nail
that left this rip bleeding its threads,
and made the clothes lie down again in front of the good-natured tailor
so the needles may continue their work
weaving the threads into the fabric
and rushing under the cloth
pulling out its limbs and memories.
Yet while so engrossed
the needles leave out some of the cloth details
and daily rituals.


Only just now

Have the trousers, that once played hide and seek,
realized they have gotten old.




Tamer Fathy, was born in 1980. He studied English literature at Alexandria University. Working in his parents’ clothing and dry cleaning shop, he started noticing, and then researching the lives of clothes. His debut collection of poetry “Yesterday I lost a button: the story of clothes” is written from the clothes’ point of view.


Maged Zaher's English poems have appeared in magazines such as “Columbia Poetry Review”, “Exquisite Corpse”, “Jacket”, “New American Writing”, “Tinfish”, and others. His first full length book: "Portrait of the port as an engineer" was published by Pressed Wafer press, in 2009.  He performed his poems at Subtext, Kootenay School of Writing, Bumbershoot, St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Evergreen State College, and other places.