a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Genevieve Pfeiffer


This, the mountain.

The trill in your chest.

Those lungs, strong elastic maids.

 

It’s autumn. The air is warm

With leafmold. Everything

Is on fire. The heat of life dries

 

To a brilliant crisp. Your feet

Solid atop death’s sodden colors.

[and beneath you, the legs

 

which have brought you this far.]

You watch the change. A carnelian

Sugar maple leans into scintillating

 

Scarlet of red maple. Your thoughts

Leave an uncatchable echo, pleasantly lost

In the lurid river birches’ yellow.

 

You are auburn, you are beech. You watch

The change from inside it.

You stand at its foot with your human life.


Senescence

A single crimson maple leaf

falls to pavement. It’s an alchemy: product
of sun’s fire & earth. Others follow.

 

A granny-smith green, mottled

a bold & eerie chartreuse,
the same shade as a caterpillar’s

 

slinking back—before it blooms

into monarch. Simply because.
There’s nothing

 

to make of these trees, they do

as trees do.
Each has called up the earth

 

through xylem & phloem,

called to its roots, demanded
what is rich. Pure desire

 

kissed to light.

The tree mixes minerals
& sun, converts the elements into life.

 

Nothing more. (Sun? What element is sun?)

We can conjecture
all we want about trees

 

& people

but the living feels good.
The bright on my back

 

on this cool autumn day

as I watch that red photosynthesizer slit the air
to scar. I miss it already.

 

But here, clean of smog, the city.

Rubbed shiny by a crisp dry front
that whisked summer away

 

In all its heavy glory. It is good,

this breaking from the earth’s tilt
towards heavy, & so I do what is good.

 

I wake up early for the silence

of these trees & once in them
they change something in me too.
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Genevieve Pfeiffer is a poet, herbalist, and teacher. They are the Assistant Director at Anomaly and will host its summer reading series in a beautiful NYC community garden (join us!) Their work is forthcoming or has been published in Frost Meadow Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Birdcoat Quartlerly, Juked, So to Speak, The Write Room, and others. They oscillate between NYC and the mountains, and you can find them where there are trees.



Other works by Genevieve Pfeiffer

  • Works of Resistance, Resilience October 2020
    • In the Spirit of Resilience
      • I Bought a Leather Dress Because I was Dumped By a Man Who Was Dating Another Woman When He Said He’d Marry Me & All Bets Are Off

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