Am I the woman, artificially still, arranged as if in sleep,
or death? Am I the dog, nestled beside her, its jaw tense,
dreaming, ready to snarl or bite? Am I the paint, deep
and patchy, ridged brushstrokes blowing from edge
to edge? Or am I the canvas, flat, transparent, and square?
Am I the navy of her dress, her pale buttery skin, the grayish-
pink of the dog’s vulnerable belly? Am I the paint brush, the hair
Of rabbit, badger, or horse? Am I the shadow beneath the weight
of her arm, casually shielding her eyes, or is her pose a defense
against the artist’s gaze? I’m the suggestion of a wall, the blank
bedsheet, the too white bed, the dog’s mottled fur, the sense
the world is one indecipherable scene and art makes it think.
What, exactly, is it the subject of this painting? That which we see:woman, dog, paint? Or the space between the painting and me?