Year of the Dog Woman

~ after Paula Rego, “Dog Woman” (pastel on canvas, 1994)

“… In these pictures every woman’s a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be bestial is good. It’s physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly believable.” ~ Paula Rego

Where the bull came
inside the girl, where the tree

swallowed her trembling
whole— the earth was merely

a cavity, three letters away
from captivity. Did no one

really hear the cries she made?
But so much is myth or

shorthand for trickery. Catch
a ferry ride, bring

a shiny coin and your knuckle
rings. The boatman smells danger

in your haunches. In the “Asian squat,”
easy holding: poised to spring.

One head of the dog snarling, one baying.
One digging up bones sharp as teeth.

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