An unmarried woman
considers Colville and his wife

(after two Alex Colville paintings side by side
at the Art Gallery of Ontario)

Thirty-three years between Woman in Bathtub and
Woman on Ramp,
coming out of the ocean—

No one will know   me
like this.

This isn’t envy;
not exactly. Not with Colville
lurking, looking ominous in his robe.

Her nipples are the only warm colour.

She is

Woman doing Headstand
Woman with Revolver
woman taking bath …


The water demarcates her
legs like ankle socks,
recalls a time before even he

had seen her.
Her pubic hair rises above shoreline:
well-treed island

and her hand, submerged—
a submarine, a shark, a separate consciousness.


She is now
an old woman, in bathing suit,
holding both rails.
He paints

the hang of loose flesh
on her arm. He paints how low
her breasts have fallen.

Is she thinking, look away for once
or is she stopped
as I am

by the heat
seeping in to later Colvilles
and because he’s got it right again:

the delicate detailing
of collarbone, how this is not diminished.

A shadow falls to one side like a cape
and she’s reaching

out of it.
And—this is envy, exactly—
she’s still a swimmer; he is still her witness.

Who else could see her in this light?