In the depth of the cloth

After the painting Washerwomen,
by Candido Portinari (1903-1962)

In the bundles on the heads of these girls
there are dirty clothes worn by other girls,
who strolled, dined and partied –
sweat and perfume, in the weave of the cloth.

Into the cotton they wear, these working girls,
enters the sweat (its bittersweet perfume),
transparent pearls that permeate it,
wetting with bitterness the fabric of their dresses.

They are dreary, the dresses of these girls –
no flower, not even withered, no leaf,
nor the colour of petals on white –
a white that was washed by clean hands.

In the still young hands of these girls
playing is a strength that hurts,
that rubs blindly the filth
and squeezes the foam as the water rinses.

Following the bare feet of these girls
we get to the banks of hidden lakes,
where the cloth is drowned,
the soiled clothes put on by others.