“To an Aokigahara Native (after Wislava Szymborska)”
Is it lonely up here, mountain ghost?
Perhaps the beauty makes up for it alone.
Perfect symmetry, an ocean of green
beneath the white powder snow.
It’s famous up here, a painting off
the coast of Kanagawa serving to show
how beautiful loneliness can be.
Can you hear the music down below, ghost?
Up here it’s koto sounds, bridges built on
the wires holding tradition together.
Up here it’s a demon’s quiet orchestra
The wind howls against the snowy slopes.
Ghost, down there it’s superflat.
It’s girls in mismatched petticoats
circle lenses and electronic souls.
Ghost, down there we have raves
the exceeder of everything foreign.
Ghost, it’s instant ramen and mochi ice cream
down there. It’s post modern haiku and manga
down there. It’s getting older and getting colder
down there. But it’s where I want to live
Ghost, they say a lot of people are in danger
when this mountain loses its perfection.
Did you learn what happens to a human body
choked on ash hotter than the sun?
Ghost, did you learn this in cram school
or did you instead learn how a body dies
If you try hard enough you can hear
the endless lives buzz down below.
But I know you’ve heard this before, ghost.
The buzz hurts
and sometimes all anyone could want
is the quiet on this perfect summit
or in that sea of green below.
Ghost, is it lonely up here?
Are there shrines and shoppings malls here?
Have you found the truth here?
Can you scream to us the secret down there?
I’ll stay for a little while longer, and
cup the rising sun in these snow-frosted hands.
Maybe if I bow deeply enough over the edge
I can bring back the light to the deep green sea.
Devyn Hamberlin is an undergraduate student at UC Riverside.