One

At the top, there is a stretch of mud where the headland meets the bog. A sheep path drags through the grass. It has rained for days and the track is puddled. I can hear the sea, the wind, and clearer, more in focus, the tip tap of my boots in the wet, but all these things are somehow mindful of a silence – the one trapped in the peat’s slow layers. I follow the dog’s rump, the hair ruffled in the wind. It’s the third dog I’ve walked behind on this headland. Looking at its hips and thin hind legs, I don’t really remember the others – the memory all and none, together.

I take out my notebook. It’s windier up here and the page folds over my hand as I write. The past delineated by the ghosts of dogs. Ten-year stretches. Blurred. The ghost dog whines. He hates it when I stop to make notes. They all do.

At the top of the top, I stand at the cairn build by a mad woman who heaped the stones around her old shoes. Ours are not the only ghosts here. Ignoring me, the dog examines the long grass in about the tumbled rocks. I face the tumbling headland, the steep-sided geos where gulls screech. When the dog turns his head, the twitching eyebrows let me know it’s Tone, and that this moment is ours alone.

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