Stone Telling

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The Gabriel Hound

by Samantha Henderson


On the first night the Moongirl comes to Kir as she and the hound slip over and under the invisible trails between root and ground. Breathless and rounding an oak gnarled with years and smoke-dark under shade and moonlight, dog and girl run together. She is there, small and lithe, a supple twist of moonbeam and muscled like the dog, a feral thing like a scrap of white porcelain.

ďCome,Ē she calls, lifting a leper-pale hand to the hound, who bares her teeth and backs her haunches against girlflesh. Kir puts chapped fingers against dogflesh and sings beneath her breath:

Little dog, little dog
brindle and white,
the stormís in the cellar
moon taking flight.
Stay with me always,
be never away,
guard me at midnight,
Iíll keep watch by day.
(when the storm broke and Kir and her father walked the
borders and the outbuildings, checking the weave of rowan through
the latches, the goats were whole and the cattle were unbled, but a
whisper of a white pup sat before the barn doors)

On the second night the Whip comes to Kir as she and the hound slip over and under the invisible trails between root and ground. Breathless and rounding an oak gnarled with years and smoke-dark under shade and moonlight, dog and girl run together. He is there, lean and cruel and clever, clad in thin ropes that wind his limbs and pinch his flesh into peak and valleys.

ďCome,Ē he commands, his voice a crack of leather, and the hound quivers and lays her trembling chin on the girlís knee. Kir gasps and lifts the dogís ear:

Little dog, hunterís hound
hound of my heart,
stay close beside me
and never weíll part.
Shape of a woman
please you to take,
Iíll tread lonesome byways,
For my true loveís sake.
(Kirís father loved the beast not, but fed it its fill, for he knew the
hunt would return expecting its hound well-grown and ready for
the chase)

On the third night the Lady of Shadows comes to Kir as she and the hound slip over and under the invisible trails between root and ground. Breathless and rounding an oak gnarled with years and smoke-dark under shade and moonlight, dog and girl run together. She is there, tall and dark as the heart of smoke, like an armful of sky torn from the night and made into the shape of a woman. In the soft folds of her gown jewels spangle like stars.

ďCome,Ē she whispers, and this is the worst, for her voice is woodsmoke and fernseed, and the hound whimpers and thrusts her nose beneath the girlís arm. Kir chokes on salt and stutters:

Little dog, lover dog,
made for the chase,
made for the quarry
and Oberonís race.
You will be master, and
I will be least.
If you canít be human,
I shall be beast.
(she let the little dog into her bed one night, for it cried beside the
fire, and in the morning it took meat from her hand and her father
knew, and her sister wept)

The Moongirl bays and the Whip welts blood from Kirís hide and the Lady smiles, in pity if the Hunt could feel pity, and Kir runs with the storm and flinches at rowan and sleeps tangled with the pack. She knows she is ill made for the life; she doesnít care. She will not last the year. Her father and sister have buried her old straw doll in lieu of her; they know she wonít return. Should another pup appear her father will kill it, come what may. He will not lose another daughter.




Samantha Henderson's poetry has been published in Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, Dreams and Nightmares, Abyss & Apex, Chizine and Lone Star Stories. Along with Kendall Evans she is a winner of the 2010 long-form Rhysling Award for their co-authored poem, "In the Astronaut Asylum."