The Forest of Ribbons – by Daniel Ruefman

The Forest of Ribbons

Ribbons web the forest
while yurei lie
like wolf spiders
in their pumice caves
on the flanks of Mt. Fuji,
waiting for another like them
to stray from the path
for a common purpose.

Visitors uncertain of the need
to find their way back,
wrap their ribbons amongst the trees;
they join the trunks of red pine
with trunks of hemlock, moving
higher, deeper, to a place apart
where even the black
bears give a wide berth.

At the ends of the ribbons,
there will be tents,
some draped with prayer flags,
most without;
some abandoned
to weather and time;
still other tents are occupied
by tired eyes staring up
into the blank canvas.

The yurei know why they are there;
they slip out of their burrows,
and call to the tent cities,
hoping to swell their ranks;

they do, some of the time,
but still they call, unsatisfied now
as they were in life, they call and take,
thinking one day there may be—enough.
There is no such number.

Daniel Ruefman is the author of two collections of poetry, Breathe Automatic (2014) and Sleep Bringer (2019). His work has appeared widely in periodicals, including Adelaide Magazine, Barely South Review, Burningword, Clapboard House, DIALOGIST, Gravel Magazine, Red Earth Review, Sheepshead Review, and Temenos, among others. He currently teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin—Stout. To learn more visit or connect on twitter @Ruefman_Writer.

Art: “Sway” by Sandy Coomer - 36X36, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: I can envision the forest and the ribbons tethered to trees, softly swaying like spirits rising from the ground.