top of page

The Dog at the Crossroads



There’s a dog at the crossroads, old and grey as the hanging-post, joists and joints creaking slightly in the wind. He lifts his head, scents the air, knows it’s not to the right or straight on or from where he’s come, so moves with the wind to the left. The marsh-pools are cracked over with ice, the breath of mist rising cold as the morning, waking the water-rails who groan deep and soft within reedy nests. The track where the dog passes is rutted and thick with rust-coloured mud. The cart must have been this way: a snap-headed bolt lies where it fell as the wheels shook and shuddered, going too fast at the ground, lifting boards, straining axles, pulling at pins and nails and shoddy repairs. A snipe cuts across the track, disturbed by the dog, zig-zagging, kik-kakking, disappearing into fog-filled ditches where the peat has been lifted, and the hard, tawny water seeps up from below. It’s a good place for bogs, but the dog doesn’t know it. He just keeps right on as the dawn arches over him, darkened by the rising mist, hidden by the drizzling rain which falls unseen, unceasing, sinking into the marsh of the meadows, into the skin of his back, damping the manging fur. His master falls away into the bog two yards to the left and the dog does not know it. His master is lost to him forever and is disappearing from the world into cold earth, dark water.Or was, until the bog is drained away to feed the fields and leaves a thick black root drying out below the morning sun, and the old dog’s master’s head is lopped from his shoulders by Henry Dibblewitch’s peat-cutting spade.

bottom of page