Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

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.


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.


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 »

©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin