Mist covers the morning, greyed, as though the road dirt has tainted it. No sun burns through. Cold holds the day. Snow could fall. The field where the old barn sits, beams cracked; calm in the process of demise; is unpopulated. The walk leads off road, over the stile and finds a line of spine and rib, a skull, the bones of two back legs. What was badger lies on grass, posed like a medical illustration, too unusual to be repulsive. Shinbones poke down into feet, a dancing skeleton in boots. Because of this: the curiousness, the nonchalance, it seems composed to this fate, even celebratory; it retains a certain vitality.
I lived a badger's life, it says, and died a badger's death. And that is how wise badgers judge success.
Dog sniffs, seems to agree, trots along the hedge, down the broad curving grass, over the opposite stile. Mud, ankle deep, heaps on rubber booted feet. They wash clean in the brook. A swirl of wet earth flows over flat stones, under the reflected sky. Footprints press the soft surface of the last unturned field, back out to the small road.
Wood smoke puffs from the kitchen, smells of charcoal and shelter. Daffodils; the scrunched and ruffled kind; cluster on a windowsill.