my dog has started painting
on an easel in the living room.
she stays up later than me
& from my bed i call her saying
come to sleep, come to sleep.
i used to be like that in high school
night-drunk & eager to write
bad poems about senseless boys.
i typed bent over a keyboard in the company
of lost headlights tracing
the road our house rested on.
she's done mostly still-lives with a few
portraits of me at my computer.
she sees in black & white so
her use of color is sporadic & haunting.
today she painted me with green hair
& a pair of burn orange shoes.
yesterday she painted me
only in white
to outline my features. she sees
something in me other people don't--
how underneath the skin there are
colors burrowed like voles.
she paints a red knife & a brown
mirror. she paints the scrunched face
of a neighbor all cerulian & navy blue.
laps water in between projects
& coils, exhausted, at my feet.
i tell her she should take a break.
i hold a tennis ball & tilt it playfully
in front of her face. she nudges it away.
she has so much work to do. i can tell.
i buy her new paints & new canvases.
open the blinds when she asks.
feed her treats as she paints & paints:
catelogging all the miscellaneous items
on my desk. one night i find her
whimpering over a half-finish painting
done in black & white. it's me again
only this time hovering a half inch
above my bed. she takes the picture
& run out the back door with it.
suddenly everything brims with
black & white. the march of grey scales
across our house. i see what she sees.
i scoop handfuls of dark
to try & save her. walk dark wood
& bleating moon until i discover tracks
red with wanting. there she is
at the end of them--chewing the canvas
to pieces. i carry her home
like a bundle of color. pet her gently
at the end of the bed. color returns
over the course of the next week
but all her images remain
black & white. we hang them up
as a relic of her painting days.
now she sleeps & chew raw hide
& digs holes in the walls. sometimes
i tap her old pictures in the hopes
the color will flicker back.
but it never does.