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“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

down there.

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

all alone.

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.

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