the ending, by Gwynne Garfinkle


I picture you at your typewriter
impossibly young in the black
and white world of the 1950s
writing I Bury the Living
years before my birth
your father over ten years gone

black pins imbued
with the power of death
when pushed into vacant plots
on a cemetery map
I wonder how you came up
with that idea

you were always devising
movie premises at the dinner table
you worked at home
until illness made work impossible
even then you kept generating ideas
you’d never turn into scripts

among the many things
I wish I could ask you now
I’d like to know if it bugged you
that you had to rewrite
the ending of your second feature film

it would have been horror perfection
the movie’s fatal map
shimmering with pins
reducing craggy cemetery director
Richard Boone to a tormented
pinpoint in the darkness

if not for that godawful ending
pinning the strange deaths
on a run-of-the-mill unhinged killer
laid on thick as caretaker
Theodore Bikel’s Scottish burr
puncturing the mystery

decades later you’d ask me
what are you writing
you always asked
and I’d hedge
protective of my work

now you’re over ten years gone
I’m still thinking up ideas
still writing
still watching your movies
beyond your unfathomable ending

Gwynne Garfinkle lives in Los Angeles. Her collection of short fiction and poetry, People Change, was published in 2018 by Aqueduct Press. Her work has appeared in such publications as Escape Pod, Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Apex, GigaNotoSaurus, Not One of Us, and Climbing Lightly Through Forests. Her debut novel, Can’t Find My Way Home, is forthcoming in January 2022 from Aqueduct Press.

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