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Robin Ouzman Hislop

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By Robin Ouzman Hislop
Posted: Saturday, April 05, 2003
Last edited: Thursday, September 20, 2007
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.
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Recent stories by Robin Ouzman Hislop
· The Pagan
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Quite an assortment of images & archetypes in this one, written
in my distant past, sweet & sour
humour, hope it amuses.

Werewolf’s task was to cross the shelved hillside, known as the fell, steered by ram, and pass through the dark forest guarded by boar, on the other side of the hill from where the bay lay, where the shepherdess and her flocks of fleecy white sheep dwelt.
At night she ruled the moon and at dawn, she would rise to the arch of the bay and shoot her arrows to direct the winds. The sun bowed to her when he rose in the bay and called her huntress at dawn, but only at her condescension.
Once, it was told, Polyphemus, born amongst those woven isles in endless spume saw his image in a salmon’s pool, over which hung a hazel tree, as the reflected sun in his single eye and cried aloud “is this the image of Polyphemus or am I the Celestial Hercules ?” Her arrow shot from her latticed window, transfixed him through his tattooed eye to the hazel tree. Not only because of his poem, but because being a mere tin smith he should not have been there at all. The Salmon Pool being sacred to her and where her and her once lover, sea child, had been wont to muse.
She enscribed upon the salmon’s back, under the transfixed Polyphemus, the dirge:

Moon in the Sky, Moon in the Bay
Eye in the Sky, Eye in the Bay
Eye in the Skull, Moon in the Skull
Skull in the Sky, Skull in the Bay.

On arch of bay, huntress at dawn would survey her flocks, the sheep in the bay, the fowl of forest and sea, every beast in its lair and the herds which ran beyond the periphery of the dark forest, the stag, the goat, the antelope and the wolf. She cared for them all with her swift flying arrows but it was the wolf pack she loved most to honour her.

She wolf ran before the moon. Wolf followed her downwind by the only name he knew her - Split Blades. It was all he saw when darkness fell and moonlight danced upon her silver fur, her eyes never, though he knew they were split blades too. Wolf only knew, that if on the night of the full moon, he saw on the precipice - Split Blades no more, to run to the weft of the bay and bay to her and she would tell him her name.

Werewolf also traced she wolf leewardly. He had been sent to keep the pack at bay because shepherdess had decreed wolves were scavengers. She feared boar grow old and fall and ram’s eyes blur and dim and fail to steer the fell, or that they might meet in fatal encounter and she wolf would run through upon her flock ( which Shepherdess could turn into the clouds and waves by day and night, if she chose) and so she wolf should only run before the moon.

Both boar and ram lusted after shepherdess and werewolf of course, who loathed the decree. He was frustrated and worn with his seasons of endless baying. Shepherdess rarely called him and then only on moonless nights. He wanted to stay with her, in the bay, and protect her flocks, as archer of love, star son, sea child, son of the wave, his names because he had been born on the ninth wave of the tide. Though Werewolf had grown lewd, he remembered past worlds when once the isles, now cold black stone, had been pearls in glistening vine, wherein he child god had laughed. But the vine turned cruel, the deluge came and they had fled through the hinged door. So called because on both sides were the solstices, the hinge, on which the door swung endlessly to and fro their opening and closing.

Now the door no longer permitted entrance or exit. They had passed into the labyrinth: woven isles in endless spume where forlorn seagulls winged.

She had danced the dance of the crane and the dream of the butterfly. Now Werewolf followed she wolf and to cross forest and fell at any time was dangerous. His appearence had waned in passing, as well as his character. His teeth were yellow and fang like, his skin grey like taut parchment. Thin straggling whisps of black hair hung upon his gaunt naked frame and his nails were black and broken. When he walked, he rather loped and when he ran, he rather bounded. Often, when the pack bought down an old stag, or goat, he’d pounce in and devour the whole corpse leaving only scraps for the pack, as well as gulping down she wolf’s cublings, who where rightfully the property of shepherdess.

He also lusted after she wolf and she feared him. Feared the precipice on the full moon for though she never looked at him, she knew that then he could see her eyes. All this the shepherdess knew but she tolerated him with reluctance. His years of endless baying had not made him any less son of the wave, for his movements were controlled by the tide, by she who ruled the moon. And though he bayed in the labyrinth, she held the arch of the labyrinth in the bay. From her latticed Window she enscribed the dirge, which ram heard on his lonely climb, which will o’wisped upon the fell and every streaming leaf of the forest unto the shore and the endless surging spume in those woven isles:

‘Ware werewolf, return not
with she wolf’s blood on your hands.
There where the sky is cleft he laments,
calls me, roams daring fell, wind worn,
forlorn, wild search, sea child.

But werewolf would delve in the labrynth, he was its most ancient dweller, but now he knew only the reality of the labyrinth as the middle world to the under and overworld. There was no turning one started from that you had not taken before, no turning that did not return you to the one you started from, no length that had not been traversed by you before and after, no image that was not present between other veils, which when uncovered showed the image you had before and the image you had after.
Once a thousand years could pass in a day and a night, but things things had changed, he couldn’t exit or enter through the hinge, because now he only had one image of day and night and cast his shadow respectively.

But through all Werewolf’s Delvings, he came up with a plan. He wanted to rise with huntress at dawn as master of morn: ruler of the sun and moon. Sadly he’d lost much of his original austerity. He consumated with Shepherdess only on moonless nights and had always to flee in peril guided by raven she sent to call and return him. He conceived first to ravish she wolf on the barnacled precipice under the full moon knowing when wolf saw Split Blades disappear on the precipice, he would run over weir to the weft of the sky, to bay to the moon and call for her name. Scattered packs would roam wild and dismayed over forest and fell and shepherdess would let loose her bloodhounds on them.

He would cross to where she awaited him, moss in the bay, her wild mane hanging, her harp sobbing, the moon rising in her throat. But that following morn when he rose as master of morn on arch of bay, he rose not with huntress at dawn, but an ancient crone, a diminutive eve. In her right hand she held white pebbles which gleamed like silver eggs, in her left hand twigs which writhed like asps. She went down to the shore and sat, her dugs trailing in the endless spume; and enscribed this dirge:

Come down ram, come down to my flock,
she wolf runs on before her eyes split blades,
wolf behowls forlorn alone on the dotted boulevard
in sailor’s cap, a bearded face in a glacier.
Who now stands between me and the endless spume?
In the labyrinth arises the face of beast
and I weep for him who must fall on the fell.

Copyright Robin Ouzman Hislop. 2003.
All rights reserved.

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 4/5/2003

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