Thus the Forests Murmur

A Writer’s Thoughts and Feelings on a Journey to Shikoku, Part 6

© Markus Russin

From where I’m standing the forests form an endless garden. Between their leaves I spy potential futures shrouded in memories. The pain is overwhelming.


This morning I awoke from a dream, surrounded by nothing but birdsong and stardust. My hands were cold, my mind focused on decay and the sensation of slowly falling as the years go by. No screaming; only empty echoes.


On the other side of the valley there is something waiting for me. I am scared, but I cannot stop. Never stop. Even when I’m standing still, I’m being pushed forward. At least the direction is right. Yet, failure comes in many different colours. I get to pick my favourite hue. Between these trees that watch me, I am still a lucky child amongst the falling.


The vine bridge is a fragile link between the pine trees and the bamboo groves. Like the present, it is a temporary gate towards the future. One wrong step and skulls obsessed with distant dreams are opened up and emptied on blood-soaked ancient stones. My feet are hurting, but I manage to cross before the whispers tear the bridge into pieces and make a chasm where two connected worlds used to be. I don’t look back. My eyes imagine new horizons.


Time transforms rocks into sand, dreams into memories. I accept its cruelty, but it does not stop my tears.


I wish to hear what the forest has to say. While the whispers enter my ear, it is hard to tell where I end and the moss begins. I’m being swallowed by the forces that the boars and owls created from a silent drop of human sweat. Why do the shadows in the woods feel so incomplete without swaying ropes attached to silent branches?


Deer come out at night to eat the glowing grass that grows under the opaque moon. The world turns lavender and blue. I watch them surreptitiously from underneath a musky blanket of steaming onsen water.

© Markus Russin

March 2016

Part 1: Dreams as They Appear from Trains
Part 2: Whispering Naoshima
Part 3: Plum Petal Elegy
Part 4: In Hills, in Wonder
Part 5: Connecting
Part 6: Thus the Forests Murmur
Part 7: The Lies of the Mountains
Part 8: Glass Castle
Part 9: Farewell, White Mountain