Iarlaith and the Dead Dog | Eckhard Gerdes

Iarlaith lounged on his garden chaise longue on the back porch and watched the river flow by. The day was sunny, so he wore his papyrus brim hat, his favorite, and the Hummer sunglasses his son Marco had found by the riverfront path one afternoon the year before.

A family of wood ducks decorated the lazy water as it meandered on its way. Occasionally a stick or leaf floated by. The yellow and red maple leaves were especially pretty. Occasionally a Japanese beetle would fly by and bug Iarlaith, but the day was pleasantly free of mosquitoes and gnats. So, the beetles were tolerable.

Just as Iarlaith was certain that life was perfect that day, he saw a larger object floating down towards the ducks, who quickly scurried out of its way. Iarlaith squinted against the glare to see what the object was. It looked like a small dead dog, perhaps a terrier, bloated, coasting along, closer to the far shore than to Iarlaith’s side.

Iarlaith was too comfortable to get up and move by the shore to look more closely. The dog got caught in an eddy and began to spin counter-clockwise. That struck Iarlaith as quite odd. Why would the spin be counter-clockwise? He pondered the symbolism of it. Heraclitus said time was a river, so that meant that rivers by definition moved clockwise. The dog was dead, so it had moved clockwise. The eddy defied logic. Perhaps it showed that the shapes of nature itself offer some sort of natural resistance to death. Iarlaith nodded in assent to his own thought. Yes, that must be it, he decided.

Just then the dog spun out of the eddy back into the mainstream. Disappointed, Iarlaith pulled the brim over his eyes, slouched back in his chaise longue, and decided to take a nap.

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