“Tohoku Ghost Stories” by Meg Eden

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Meg Eden


We remembered the old ghost stories, and we told one another that there would be many new stories like that. Personally, I don’t believe in the existence of spirits, but that’s not the point. If people say they see ghosts, then that’s fine—we can leave it at that.
—Masashi Hijikata

the old woman who visits me for tea is dead but I don’t have the heart to tell her

every time I see my mother there’s a pool of seawater in her room

and still no one’s removed that boat off the top of the Sumitomo’s building

if a boat can get all the way up there what keeps us from disappearing into the sky

like the woman who walks each morning across the ocean and back I wonder where I’m going now

what can I talk to my friend about these days I still have my son

who collects the things found on the beach someone’s television set a rusted refrigerator

a woman says that soon this city will be filled by God but is God a tsunami that takes years to drain out

the phone calls I get are from numbers that don’t exist

my husband calls his friends several times a day how are you? how are you? just in case

Otsuchi becomes a great washing machine again tumbling us in and out of memories

it’s come to the point I can’t even go out in the rain anymore that’s when I see

puddles like the eyes of dead people what can I do put them in a cup

my daughters were lined up like bowling pins outside the school waiting for the earthquake

why didn’t I keep her home from school that day she complained about her throat

every day someone new is sick whatever we try to rebuild is barricaded by ghosts

even taxi drivers refuse to go to Sendai afraid of catching ghosts

one man’s address led to a concrete slab the man was gone but the driver opened the door

just in case I was never high enough I kept climbing the stairs but how do you outrun an ocean

with all the old houses cleared and the new ones rising it’s becoming hard to remember what we looked like before

from Rattle #49, Fall 2015
Tribute to Scientists

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Meg Eden: “I have worked as a research assistant in linguistics and cognitive science. I started this position right out of undergrad, and as such, felt thrilled to be involved in any way with the sciences—even if that meant I was just doing admin tasks. But I was very blessed to get to work with researchers who encouraged me to contribute ideas, and to be informed by the current scientific literature relevant to our projects. I found that reading these scientific articles and exploring the scientific world prepared me to come home from work, and respond to what I was learning through poetry. The science provided content, the poetry provided voice. I found that my poetry became stronger during this time because my idea of what poetry was expanded—I found poetry in academic articles, in fMRI scans, in working in and learning diverse languages. For me, exploration and learning are vital to both science and poetry, so the collaboration made sense.” (website)

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