On Goya’s “The Submerged Dog”
52 inches of pallid yellow
Pouring down vertically - its incessant
Visual silence invites screaming. Its
Formlessness defies definition. Is
It a sprawling, sick sallow sky? Or a
Massive mountain, bearing no footholds? Your
Eyes pan down, down. 52 inches might
As well be eternity. Its horrors
Height and simplicity – un-scalable,
Insurmountable - its pathos pervades
Your crevices. Then suddenly. Just. Stops.
Abruptly, you now confront an up-arced brown form.
Is this Earth? Is it quicksand? Murky sea?
An illusory refuge promising
Sanctuary? And then you notice it.
A flash of broad black brush stroke, it bisects
Up and down, sky and ground: an agent of
Between-ness. Suspended below yellow,
Submerged in brown: it’s the solitary
Head of a dog. Wide with fear (or despair),
Its white-flecked eyes gaze imploringly out
Beyond the interminable up-ness
To some hypothetical salvation.
Is its torso petrified within that
Swathe of earth-brown oil? Or do its unseen
Legs flurry to keep it afloat? Is this
Wasted wanting in sure defeat’s face? No –
To keep desire’s vessel - the head – abreast,
However absent the body or vast
The abyss – we can aspire no higher than this.
Mindy Watson is a DC/Northern Virginia-based creative nonfiction writer and federal writer/editor. She holds an MA in Writing (Nonfiction) from The Johns Hopkins University and a BA in English for Illinois Wesleyan University. Her nonfiction has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Ars Medica and Thread: A Literary Journal; her poetry has appeared in The Quarterday Review.
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