The Artist of Endings

I never see that prettiest thing —
A cherry bough gone white with Spring —
But what I think, “How gay ‘twould be
To hang me from a flowering tree.”

–‘Cherry White’, Dorothy Parker

She had committed suicide, and therefore could not buried be in hallowed ground.

(Much time had she spent in arranging her death; the perfect tree, the swelling hill, the nodding, night-blooming wildflowers — most of which she had herself planted — the full moon, the distant sound of gaiety and music from the party she had thrown.)

She lay in uncovered state for three days. The Brother kept watch over her body, sitting day and night beside the cool marble reading with equanimity a collection of French fairy tales.

(She was in an uncertain state, neither dead nor alive, while her body lay thus unhomed. She loitered near, read over the Brother’s shoulder, and laid insubstantial hands on his distressless shoulders when he turned the pages too quickly.)

Outside the city walls was she buried, close beside the sweet-scented tree that had swung her strange fruit from its branches. On the second week of her internment they came for her, dancing and playing music, tiny hands waving gay shovels in the air, eyes bright and lidless behind queer square glasses.

(She felt them, from the burning plains, as they lifted her corpse, and screamed a little louder in the burning rains.)