“Why do so many Asians believe in ghosts?”
Two white yokai scholars won’t stop gawking
at us like we’re aliens seen through a telescope.
They bait our deceased ancestors to rise up
in a parade of their torn robes, already stained
by the handprints of grave robbers. Demand
elegies to be bottled up for a weighing of
their heaviness, a test of their misty reality.
I must have left my soul in Fengdu Ghost City
two summers ago, when I devoured an icy blue
popsicle atop the mountain home of Diyu,
the Underworld. Perhaps it’s why I see ghosts
everywhere now. A Chinese granny
in a bookstore has my late Wai-Poh’s
toothless smiles and stooped shoulders.
I trace the spine of second-hand history
she leaves behind on the shelves. Count my
breaths to check whether I’m dreaming.
Each gap between tiny footnotes
is a signpost for the names left out.
Wild marginalia peeks out from the edges
of peeling white-out. My transcended kin
didn’t pass on to have their half-healed scabs
ripped open again, paper offerings stolen
like plundered heirlooms, trapped
behind spotless display windows
so far away from home. It’s much easier
to summon spirits than to
cast them away. When they are
evoked, they’ll return without fanfare,
and they’ll feast. A hunting of the unreal
living, a haunting of the faithless.
Spread the word!