please list fluency of languages below:

______native_______________________like blood in my throat
_________________unaccented _______learned ______& memorised,
_________________my tongue: a woman
_______________________knows how to lay still / waits until you have finished
______fluent(?)_____________________i can joke here i can make a home here please
__________i say i’m fluent but i mean i can speak with no accent
_______________i mean i stopped going to sunday school because
______________________i didn’t like the way the teacher looked at my uncovered hair

________________________________i can’t curse in any other language
______________________but i can’t read my father’s facebook posts___________please
_______________does it count? _______ does my tongue move lithely for you?
______________________shall you play umm kalthoum? shall i dance for you
_____________________________to prove it?
______advanced________my grandmother smiles again when she tells me
__________she spoke french better than arabic ______an honour my cousins don’t share
_______________& she speaks it with the helpers who sit silent
_____________________________while she mocks their tightly-spun hair __________it’s
dirty, you know, they don’t know how to wash it______ but they speak softly to your grandfather
_____________________how she measures herself______against______the tongue
__________of the gunned men that ripped ___us_______–all of us–______into fractures
______intermediate ______halfway between______ forgetting and remembering
__________i play aventura in the spring to seduce the cherry blossoms outside my apartment
_______________language second-closest to God __________ojalá que me recuerdes
______________________que reces por ________mi
__________quiero soñar de una vida sin fronteras
________________________sin identidad
________________________________________sin traducción
_______________pero me quedo sin lengua _______y con solo el silencio de conocer demasiadas

formas de decir que _______________pertenezco

abdel-nasser births a mermaid:

i play umm kalthoum on repeat
& imagine myself walking down an aisle drowning
in white_______there is no man standing in front of me_______awaiting me just the
sea___________beat of the tabla & violin _______my parents watching on
as i step knee deep into_______the nile_________brown in its filth
before i lay
______________somehow closer to my father than ever before. sea people, we are,
_____________________pride like seasalt
i keep walking until i am fully submerged______________unbecoming
as the audience watches on
_______here i lay, woman as water_______lifeline_______singing a song
known to kill a man_______but aren’t we all mortal
aren’t we all trying to prove the humanity_______of our skin
the dress is browning in the nile__the lace ballooning
around me as i drunk my head / hear the roar of the drums / the intro is over
_______i do not f(h)ear you_______i do not
sit quiet______________anymore
under the sea / the roars_______will just push more water into my stomach
_______this is how i live now_______ungoverned
______________remembering autonomy_______a new nationalisation
bath bomb_______self care______________suez
_______i am not_______another sunken girl
______________they cannot_______colonize me
_____________________if i am not on land

Aida Bardissi is a current MSc candidate at the London School of Economics, where she specializes in race, indigeneity, & film in 20th Century Egypt. She speaks four languages but dreams in one. You can find her on instagram at masreyamrekaneya.

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