Until the end of the seventeenth century,
                no one was 
ever left alone.
                                —Philippe Ariès

The house is humming with many lives today.
Too drowsy even for a slice of apple
or her own glass of wine, she prepares
to dream of nothing, to dream her life away.

What kind of life? The man in the next room
whose dandyish red coat and jaunty hat
fail to mask his eager hesitation?
The dog who lopes toward him, hoping for food,
a pat or a walk? These usual companions
whose loving negotiation colors the day
are for X rays only: part of the painting’s dream.