The Black Dog

Jasmine’s Kingswood only has the original radio so there is only what’s on the AM dial. I listen to Joseph Campbell tell American Indian stories on ABC Radio National. It fades in and out all dry and crackly through the Wombat State Forest. I keep thinking about them as I drive through the psychedelia of light playing on the road from the eucalyptus about the end of everything and the beginning of everything and the end that keeps beginning. There is so much static.

There is a cave that is very hard to find, says the radio through the static, but when you have found it you will see inside the cave an old woman making a shirt. And within the stitching and embroidery she puts all the good things and bad things there ever is or was and the shirt is nearly finished and she is just working on the hem and she is using porcupine quills but she has to soften them first by chewing them with her teeth and she has been doing this for a very long time and her teeth are down to nubs just above the gums. And she stitches the quills and everything there ever was into the hem of the garment and it is nearly finished.

And there is a fire in the back of the cave and over the fire is a bubbling soup brimming with all the animals and insects and trees and plants and mushrooms on the earth and the old woman has to put the shirt down sometimes to stir the soup on the fire. If the old woman forgets to stir the soup then some of the plants and mushrooms might stick on the bottom of the pot and burn and be lost forever.

But there is a black dog that lives in the back of the cave with the old woman and while she is stirring the soup on the fire the black dog comes and picks up the shirt, which is beautiful and perfect and almost finished and shakes it from side to side and undoes the embroidery, so that everything that she ever did is undid.
But the old woman picks up her ruined mess of embroidery and begins work on a new shirt including many beautiful scraps of fabric from the old shirt.

‘You should be happy about that black dog,’ the old people say to the young people when they tell this story. Because everything has been made and remade and smashed apart into bits and remade again which is the hidden meaning within the beginning and end of this story.

There is more information, if you listen closely, fading in and out on Radio National but it is cut off by the Wombat State Forest and all I hear is fuzz and crackle and static and eventually I shut it off. Because it is only mind numbing white noise not worth listening to. So I drive on in silence. Just the background noise of the tyres on the bitumen and the engine and the wind through a tiny crack in the window.

2 Responses to “The Black Dog”

  1. We drove to Balmedie on Saturday and went through a place called Blackdog (love this piece by the way) and I said it must be a depressing place to live. Then I said the same thing on the way back. I will say it again when we next drive through it

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