The Spirits of Suicide Forest

AKIGOHARA, JAPAN

Visitors spot them clinging to the crooked pines.
Spirit behaviors reported by day-tripping salary men can be pure absurdist
theater or merely prankish—
water taken from day packs stuck upside down in the mud, the braids of twin
sisters tied together.
Some whom gravity drags down too long come back as butterflies or gnats, ants,
no-see-ums, of negligible mass.
Some seem not to know what it is they have become, stranded here, some
rummage through rotted belongings.
One’s hair has snagged on a branch, it holds out scissors.
One’s pills lie, scattered dice, on moss.
But it is the complexity, the gravitas, and grandeur, and extravagance of those
who man the task force
charged with the ghost-count that haunts me. That they trouble themselves to
enter
supernatural data in a log each day. That they stop to jot down visitors’ accounts of
sightings in their official log, and type them up in full paragraphs.
It is clear the witnesses who tell their stories have become, in many cases,
like the disoriented spirits, strangers to themselves.
Deranged by grief, unsure of what they’ve seen, some report long
conversations

with lost ones who aren’t even their own. Some claim
no tragedy urged them here. Some say curiosity drew them
to visit Akigohara, and they got lost in thought, or only stopped to take a leak.

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TLR Streed Cred front coverMiranda Field was born in North London, UK, where she grew up a dual (US/UK) citizen, coming to the United States as an undergraduate. Married to poet Tom Thompson, with whom she has two children, she teaches poetry (and occasionally fiction) at NYU, Barnard, The New School, and privately. Her first book of poems, Swallow, will be followed by another in the fall of 2017. She is currently working on a third manuscript, Imaginary Royalty.

“The Spirits of Suicide Forest” was originally published in Street Cred (TLR, 2015)