|Sea of Trees crests at Mt Fuji's feet.
Thick forest of Japanese cypress, red pines
grow neck and neck with alder. Where when
trees fall, they don't: they cant. Rope-like
roots, stymied by volcanic rock, twist and turn,
tortured by ancient lava impeding their desire
to push deep within.
Some voices echo that the trees themselves,
fueled by juices full of malevolent energy
sap the resolve of ones who venture there.
Gnarled branches twisted, tortured
under deceiving feathery moss, rise
above intertwined cypress knees as if
the forest had gone for a stroll and then knelt
when a soul ventured near.
Jukai, of the breathtaking views
where hanging hemp ropes take breath forever away.
Living greens so dense, sounds are swallowed whole:
No one hears the screams in Aokigahara
and there is no one to see until
bleached bones lie in stark relief;
Death thrives next to the rotting.
Sunlight muted beneath canopy
where chilling beauty lies
in perpetual twilight
and the only movements are swinging ropes
where no breeze passes.
Here come the ones who have reached
of their rope or choices: Hanging is
the death of choice in Aokigahara.
Yurei, Japanese spirits who yet cling
to Earthly realm flit between the trees--
white, shifting forms caught only in the
corner of your eye. Leading, perchance,
across cenotes or hollow tubes,
where hidden caves make up your mind
when you travel down the wrong path.
Colorful ribbons, blue, white, red
stream through the forest; strings,
tapes trail behind those who walk
in case they change their minds for
no compass works near volcanic iron.
I am reminded of gaily wrapped presents
but here, what is unwrapped is death--
here, there is only the past where
Theseus unwinds his ball of thread
in the labyrinth of the Minotaur,
in the labyrinth of Aokigahara.
Scavenger hunts lead only
to those scavenged by the forest gleaners.
Death lies in the mists,
in the midst of the living.
An Apollo butterfly
rests on a sign pleading for life--
Apollo, god of light, of plagues, of music
seems to have no place here
but for the plague of suicide
which runs rampant.
Repugnant skulls with hollow eyes
can no longer see their reflections
in the rounds of polished glass
that mirror anguished souls
at the train station in hope
that they will see that they are not
invisible and stay among the seen.
The station is last stop
before they walk the forest path.
Aokigahara, Sea of Trees
looks up to the sun glinting off Mount Fujiyama
but beneath the canopy
are only the fallen.