I Wash the Shirt, Anna Swir

Beautiful poem by Anna Swir, the 'only daughter of a painter who was abysmally poor. She grew up in his atelier in Warsaw'*: For the last time I wash the shirt of my father who died. The shirt smells of sweat. I remember that sweat from my childhood, so many years I washed his shirts and underwear, I dried them at an iron stove in the workshop, he would put them on unironed.

From among all bodies in the world, animal, human, only one exuded that sweat. I breathe it in for the last time. Washing this shirt I destroy it forever. Now only paintings survive him which smells of oils.

*From A Book of Luminous Things, Czeslaw Milosz